Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sheet bees wax candle making tutorial

This is the second time in a week that it's snowed! Frigid temps have made is it easier to stay inside and craft. We made about a dozen of the candy cane striped candles together. They're so easy that my 4 year old was able to fully participate. This is such a wonderful way to make candles if you're not ready for dipping or molds. It's incredibly easy, and instant gratification .... really! I promise.

This is my version of a tutorial for bees' wax sheet candles to create a two tone spiral candle. We ordered our wax from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. This is where we get all of our beekeeping supplies. They are a wonderful North Carolina small business with excellent customer support. If you're local and want to make these tomorrow, you can also visit the Earth Guild in Asheville.

Ingredient list:
1) bees wax sheets (2 different colors for this craft)
2) wick, enough yardage to make the number of candles (1 yd for @ 3 candles is my guess,but don't trust my math. It depends on how tall your sheets of wax are.)
3) hair dryer (a necessity, so borrow one if you don't have one.)

Here we go....

Cut the wax upper left corner to lower right corner, making a triangle like the pic above. Do this with both colors of wax sheet. You will be able to make 2 candles total.

Layer the two colors of wax sheet like the pic above. The other two sheets of wax are sitting to the side ready to use for the next candle.

Tear a small corner from the top sheet bottom left corner (look closely at the white wax.) Use your hair dryer to warm the wax up, making it tear smoothly. You will use this bit of wax to prime your wick. Again, a little blast from the hairdryer will help to mold it right around the end of the wick. It should look like the pic below.

Now, you will lay the appropriate length of wick at the far left side of the candle. Use your hair dryer to heat up the wax. You can't hurt the wax. Just experiment with intensity of heat so that you achieve pliability. I use low heat when working with my kids, but high heat when I'm doing it myself. When your candle is mailable, start rolling. Once we get it going, I turn the candle toward the child so that they can roll TOWARD their body (rather than left to right.) My seven year old is good to go on her own. My four year old needs a little assistance with keeping the end of the candle flush. You'll see... and you'll quickly get the hang of it.
These are spectacularly easy and so much fun to make. Even if you don't have kids, it's just a wonderful craft that yields beautiful results. Need some inexpensive gifts? Give it a try. My guess is that you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ornament Idea for you... or, some like it hot!

We happened to have acquired quite a few peppers this fall....

Well, a lot, actually.
I got kind of inspired by all that red. I took out a needle and thread.... and got busy.
After a two hour movie, I had about a hundred to hang on the tree. The best part is that next year, I'll get to use them again. One of the cheapest, easiest, and most beautiful ornaments ever.
The secret to the effect is definitely in the sheer quantity, though. Somebody had a rockin' garden this year (and it wasn't me.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

So much to be thankful for...

We've had such a wonderful holiday, despite my initial funk leading up to it. I think all the hype of getting ready for craft shows just does that to me. Despite the fact that it was another wonderful event, I just felt like I needed to go find a real job afterward. Hmmmm.

But it really was hard to stay in that state for long. Thanksgiving day was brilliant here. We went bike riding as a family, and had a really nice time with my extended family that evening. My dad helped me plant my my bulbs in the garden. I had a date night with my husband that included sushi and old friends. We decorated our beautiful Christmas tree. Four days were just jam packed with good stuff.

When the weekend got colder we shifted to a whole bunch of crafting and indoor play. Even my husband got artsy and made some wreaths, which I'll have to show you later. We're all definitely excited about spending our first holidays in our new/old house.

I had to snap a bunch of pictures of the little scenes of play that were happening around our house. It warms my heart especially because I made these fairy dolls last spring for my sweet girl's birthday. They've gotten so much mileage! They were definitely worth the effort. The book mentioned in this post is what I used to guide me.

Here's the dish I made for Thanksgiving, a secret recipe shared by the woman who catered our wedding. We begged her for it after the event, and it's something I take the time to make every year. I hoarded the leftovers and finished that bit off yesterday.

Butternut squash souffle
2 cups butternut squash, roasted, mashed
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoon corn starch
Mix until smooth. (I use my handheld Cuisinart)
1 stick melted butter
1 1/4 cup cream
3 egg yolks
Mix with butternut squash mixture until smooth.
3 egg whites
pinch salt
Beat in separate bowl to soft peaks. Fold this into squash mixture without over mixing.
Bake in buttered souffle dish at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Alrighty, then. Now it's time for me to re-enter the real world. Hope you were able to find some moments away from all the stressors this weekend. Have a great week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm always reminding myself to...

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Feel better now?
I do.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Getting in my groove

Somewhere along the way in the last year, I lost my groove. It just happened. Certainly there was plenty of chaos and life stressors. It's easy to put oneself, or one's passions, on the back burner when it comes to raising kids. I'm fine with that these days although there was a time I felt decidedly more resentful. There is usually an ebb and flow, and I have a great life. Still, it just feels so good when some of my dreams take center stage.

Recently, several things converged for me artistically... drawing, block carving, print making, and sewing. They were driven by the deadline of our upcoming holiday show, but nevertheless, it got me in gear. These images are prints that I did on textile with my carved stamps. I did these more than a year ago, but I carved them again during my hiatus this summer (aka: dog attack recovery.) Plenty of helpful info is listed in this post and this one if you're interested in giving carving and printing a try.

I absolutely love drawing, and it is thrilling to see how your drawing will look once you've carved it. The printing process is equally as gratifying for me. There is something very meditative about it as you get into the rhythm of printing. These were my first attempts at printing on textile. I used linen and Pebeo Setacolour opaque textile paint from Dharma Trading Post.

Here's some of the results. The top two are being made into pillows. I also designed a messenger bag. I've printed up about 18 for the show and we'll see if I get them all constructed in time. Did I mention that the show is just 10 days away?! Hmmmm. My goal is to remain healthy while cranking it all out.

So... I've been a busy little bee, but that's usually the case this time of year. I find that I'm feeling really energized by my new creations, so let's hope is the drive that I need to get it all done. Really, though, even if I don't get everything made that I want to, the very best part is feeling like I'm back in my creative groove. Ah, yes. That's more like it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sushi by daddy

It's always a good weekend when daddy makes sushi.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten years of marriage or "go have an affair with your husband"

Yes, I really did mean to say, "go have an affair with your husband (spouse, partner)." There is nothing like adventure, excitement, together time with no one else around... the thrill of being with somebody who still gets you jazzed up.

We've lived together for fourteen years and been married for ten. Had I known how amazing it would be to get away for an overnight without kids, I would have insisted on it a long time ago. It's the best therapy there is.

Let's face it. Relationships are never entirely carefree, no matter how much you love each other. Throw some stressors in, and well, I think we all know how NOT easy marriage can be at times. In reality, I'd say we have a really strong one; we are an amazing team, but we work hard at it.

We were gone for just 24 hours, but it felt like a whole weekend. We motorcycled up to the parkway and camped at Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi river. It was utterly amazing to camp on the ridge and be able to look off both sides. We took sushi and a bottle of wine. No cooking! Definitely the way to go.

The next day was coffee in our sleeping bags and some Lara bars. We did a couple of hikes right from our campsite. Our wedding day was during peak leaf season ten years ago, and it was that way this year as well.

My husband and I worked together in an outdoor program, and paddled together for a full year before we ever "got together." We have many years of adventures between us, and somehow going to the highest point in North Carolina for our anniversary on a motorcycle, and tent camping in 30 mile per hour winds with temps below freezing is what we call romance. I'm grinning as I write. It makes us sound pretty hard core, but I guess we are just a little bit. Still, with all our gear, we were never uncomfortable. In fact, I'd label us pretty much "blissed out" the entire time.
After being home and back to family life, the bliss definitely ebbed. It was back to a schedule and meeting kids' needs. No get-aways to high mountain tops with long uninterrupted conversations. We kept stealing looks at one another, co-conspirators of what it can be like without kids.
One thing we talked about on our get-away was that our past adventures are something we hold onto to keep us excited about our lives. Meaning, it's the experiences, not the attainment of objects, that we both treasure. I enjoyed spending time with my playmate again, letting the adventure unfold together. It was like stepping back in time fourteen years. I'm savoring it even now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At it again

I know, I know. I complain bitterly about sewing them up, but they're just so darn awesome. I want everyone to have one. We all have an artist within, don't we? I've been using my kids to do a little drawing lately. I think I may have to keep one of these new ones for myself. More here if you're interested.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elderberry and Honey

Elderberry syrup is something I meant to rave on and on about last year in this blog space. My friends have all heard an earful about it. We are an elderberry consuming family when cold and flu season comes around. The problem is that I was purchasing each bottle and it was running us broke.

The merits of elderberry and honey can be looked up all over the Internet now. I have no regrets about our consumption, even with the expense of purchased syrup. We are an inordinately healthy family and that is priceless. I'm secretly convinced it's because of a daily consumption of our own honey. Toss in the elderberry syrup during the dreaded cold and flu season, and we've avoided much of what we've been exposed to in the last couple of years.

What finally prompted me to make my own was when I felt the budget was too tight to splurge on the store bought syrup. (The bottle pictured above is what I would recommend if you're not going to make your own.) We quickly succumbed to whatever virus was making its germy way into our household. That's it. Elderberry and honey may not be the answer, but it seems to be a magic wand of sorts. I purchased dried elderberry and here's the recipe we used:

1/2 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup honey
I boiled the water and elderberries and then turned down the heat to a simmer for an hour or so. I pureed with my trusty handheld Cuisinart. (I'm in love with this little gem and you can see it in the background of the above pic.) Some may chose to strain seeds with cheesecloth after this, but we skipped it. They are about like raspberry seeds, and pleasantly crunchy. Then we added our honey, using the Cuisinart to stir well. Let it cool and put in a lidded mason jar in the fridge. It will keep for months, but must be refrigerated. (I'm not a health professional, but the doses we use are 1 tsp for our 4 yr old, 2 tsp for 7 yr old, and 4 tsp for adults.)
This is the label for our honey, created by our talented graphic designer friend. It's for sale at tail gate markets around town or you can contact me. What do you think of that design? I gave her the name and she came up with it because she knows us well.

So... after not too much effort and $4.75 worth of berries, we had a huge batch. Easy peasy. I wish I had made my own about a year ago, but such is life. I'm always reminding myself that it's hard to do it all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall in Western North Carolina

What does this time of year mean for you?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just what we needed...

This is what it took to help me heal...

Running, swimming, playing in the sand, sea shell walks, sewing, reading, knitting, fishing, sitting in rocking chairs watching the ocean shift...

Eating sea trout, red drum, and flounder that my husband caught. Combining every good catch with beets, potatoes, basil, and the last of summer's tomatoes from our mountain gardens.

No phones, t.v., or Internet connections. No schedule... just the four of us.

I miss it already. It was extraordinary, and just the cleansing we needed as a family.
Happy 1st of October to you!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On hiatus

It appears that I need to announce an official break from posting on my blog. Our gmail is down for the count, so I can't even answer emails... such a drag. However, the bigger deal is that I have been very sick and in pain every day since I was bitten by that dog on August 4. I've had four rounds of antibiotics now. My body is totally wrecked from fighing infection and dealing with pain. I wish I had more positive things to report, so.... I'm going to unplug and focus all my energies on healing.

See you all soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Knitting for that baby...

.... the one we can't wait to meet. My niece! There's all kinds of excitement around here as we talk about babies and retell stories about, "when you were a baby..." I wish that I had taught myself to knit before I had babies. It's been the perfect thing to sit around and do.

This hat just begged to be modeled on the Effanbee doll that was mine when I was a child. (It's closing in on 40 years old.) But about the hat, so small that I can't believe a baby's head is ever so tiny. It's funny how much you forget.... how their head fit in the palm of your hand. This hat (70 stitches CO, size 2 needles) was knit using the Magic Loop Method and I loved learning it. I'll definitely be using this method again, and it makes so much sense. Easy... circular knitting with no double point needles... gotta love that! I added the I-cord up top for a little flower look.

The booties were a pleasure to knit. These from Erika Knight's newest book Natural Nursery Knits. This book, I got from our public library. It's just dreamy to look at with beautiful photos. You'll find yourself wanting another baby even if you don't knit. My husband and I keep joking about how wonderful it will be to have another baby in the family that we can love on and then hand back to mama and daddy. Perfect, if you ask me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feeling the light

Thank you so much everyone who has sent their well wishes with a phone call, an email, a meal, or a comment left on my post. I do, indeed, believe that my recovery has been speedier thanks to all of the love and light sent my way. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me to have so many people that I don't even know expressing concern. It has renewed my faith in the goodness of people, when I must say that the owners of the dog have caused me to question that lately. So... thank you, thank you, thank you! You changed my life with your gestures of caring. Now isn't that just a terrific reminder of the power we all have? Really. It makes such a difference.

P.S. If you can believe it, our gmail account has crashed. So if you're not hearing from me via an email, that's why! Could be a while by the looks of things....

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I was bitten (attacked, really) by a dog that was on leash when trail running 8 days ago. This picture is from day 3. It has been one long week, and I'm still struggling to wrap my brain around it all. This definitely falls in the unexpected events category for the summer. I've been dealing with alot of pain and I'll spare you the emotional details associated with being attacked by a dog.

I was inspired by this and joined team Improv(e) your Butt to focus on getting more excercise. I had no idea that my goal for getting healthier would be curtailed by a dog. I did, however, piece an improv doll quilt for our sweet friend's seventh birthday after I could move around again. She loved it and that made it all worthwhile.

My sister gave me a card addressed to "gimpy" and the inside said something to the effect, "that mama said there would be days like this." Really? O.K..... but such a huge chunk of the summer? Come on, now. It has to let up soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The new meditation

Painting. I swear, I should have calculated the hours. I would be astounded. Nearly every bit of paneling on the first floor has been painted at this point.... by me.

Kitchen? Check.
Laundry room? Check.
Funky seventies bathroom with no less than 4 different colors of porcelain? Check.
I do believe it has helped my stress level just a tad. I love a task accomplished. To reward myself? Had to get a bird print from this talented lady.... it makes me very happy.