Monday, January 30, 2012

Repouring Old Candles for NEW Candles

It's a common household  theme: You have 13 almost completely used candles at your house.  I have 13 almost completely used candles at my house (and I don't even think I'm a "candle person"  all mine have been gifts) ... I actually keep them in a box in my closet.  Apparently, I've been preparing for this candle project  for years and didn't even know it.  

What I used for my first new SUPER candle
these are all the candles I used, the wick (I got a pack of 5 from Hobby Lobby for a couple of bucks)  I used the pliers to reach into the hot wax and pull out the old wick.  and I used a pair of Husband's thick (never used before) fishing gloves to handle the hot glass containers. The tall container with the pink candle in it is what I used to be my new holder.  It was a Home Interiors Candle my mom gave me years ago and I really like the shape and weight of the holder.  
 btw, I've permanently taken ownership of those gloves.  They are fantastic!  Great for handling hot things.  And I may or may not have used them to reach into the oven and pull of a tray of chicken nuggets during the candle making process.

What I did:
-Put about 3 inches of water in a saucepan on the stove.  Towards the end of the project, I had to refill the water due to evaporation.
-I started by melting the one in the big container that I was going to use again.  When it was all melted, I pulled out the old wick, put in the new one and set it aside for the pink bottom layer to harden.
-And moved on to melting the white ones next.  (I added one of my mason jar lid rings around one of the jars so they wouldn't bump into each other while they were shaking/melting in the boiling water.  I was a little afraid they would shatter)
- I pulled out those wicks and after the pink had hardened completely, I poured the white on top of it.
-and continued adding layers until I was finished.

For the small pink candle, I melted it in one of the jars the white ones was in after they had been poured.

this is the first two layers after the white had hardened

And this is the finished result of my first candle.  I really , really love it.  And besides the $2 for the 5 wicks, it was completely free.  score.
The night after I finished the first one, I was browsing at walmart and found IDENTICAL jars for $1.67 each.  So, of course, I gathered a few more used candles and made two more.
1, 2, and 3
From this process, I learned that I pretty much only have white, pink and red candles.  (there's one purple one that's still in the box with lots more white ones!)

Also, you don't have to do layers like I did.  You could mix them all together at once.  It's a great way to get some more use out of your old candles for mostly free.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christmas Bicycles

Christmas morning, the kids woke up to see the things they'd been talking about for weeks in their living room.  Bicycles (and helmets)   Seriously, I cannot even tell you how excited they were.

Because of the layout of our house and the fact that it rained and rained (and was cold) on Christmas and the week after, they rode in the house.  They'd start in the dining room, go through the living room, down the hall and back into the dining room.  

By the time they finally got to ride outside, they were pros.

Daughter, minutes after discovering her new bike

Son, taking a break from the action
 About a week after Christmas, it warmed up enough that I loaded the kids, a picnic and their bikes and helmets in the car and we met Husband at The Railroad Park for a long lunch.  They loved it.  And because it was a weekday, not crowded.  Perfect for a 4 year old and a 2 year old who have only ridden their bikes inside their house.  And they did great.  We went around 3 times and stopped a lot to run and play.
Just starting off.  She turned around and said, "snap my picture, please."
This little boy did GREAT.  I was so proud of how be managed his bike and how fast he could go!
Also, they both have bells on their bikes that they are oh so in love with.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Crayon Melting and Molding Adventure

Pinterest strikes again.  I'm excited about finally making and doing the things I've been pinning for months.  Makes me feel like all those hours on pinterest weren't a total waste!

We (well, mostly me ... and actually, technically, the oven) melted down all the kids' broken crayons into new "super crayons" (don't you love pins that tell you everything you need to know without having to go to the website?  I do.

The kids loved the ideas of new super crayons and were eager to help me peel all the remaining paper off (something they love to do anyway)

all our busted crayons.
Notice Daughter has started to "fill" the mold.  That's kind of how she thought the process would go.  One old crayon turns into one new crayon.

I filled the little leaf molds with solid rainbow colors and then went about dividing the rest of the colors in ways that made sense to me in silicon muffin molds.

my helpers.  They also helped test colors during the sorting process so I  wouldn't get the purples, dark blues and blacks mixed up.

the leaf mold stayed in for 15 minutes on 230 degrees.  And you can tell the mold is a little warped.  next time, I'll check on them sooner.

the biggers ones needed more time.  they stayed in for 22 minutes at 230.

All cooled off and popped out of their molds.
I saw other pins that used paper cups and I think that would be as easy as the silicon  molds.  especially cleanup wise.  This was a cinch.

My only complaint:  the new super crayons definitely do NOT fit in our crayon box.   The crayon box has now been upgraded to the same shoe box size rubbermaid containers used for race cars, potato head body parts and play-doh accessories. 

All in all, it was fun for the kids and I.  Plus, now instead of hundreds of crayons pieces, we have less than a dozen super crayons.  And after Daughter got used to the fact that her crayons don't have much of a point anymore, they both love using them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January Sewing: t-shirt quilts, etc.

 Months and months ago, BBWP and I started talking about all of our Judson shirts and how we never wear them and I decided we should turn them into a quilt.   For weeks, we were looking at fabric online, pricing interfacing, gathering shirts. And well, that was about it.  We decided to put the idea on hold, think about it and slowly put aside money for it.

Recently, Jennifer decided making Judson t-shirt quilts should be our January project.   Yes, fabulous.  Great idea.  In preparation for Second Saturday Sewing, I cut my shirts and interfaced them.  I also decided I would make mine twin sized and finalized a layout.  (btw, TWIN is HUGE.  This is definitely the biggest quilt I've ever attempted)

I used 21 shirts (I used the fronts and backs of my 3 Parent's Day jerseys).  The big blocks are 15inch squares.  And the small blocks that are made from the front pockets (and some blank shirt squares to have enough) are 6.5in blocks.
This is the layout
 On Saturday, I got all all 24 of the big blocks put together, and the two side strips put together.  Then Sunday night, I added the strips to each side and completed the front.  And soon I will take a picture of the entire front.

My favorite shirt of Jennifer's

Jennifer cutting and decided on her block sizes
Marie cut fabric for a quilt for a soon to be arriving niece.
Mandy won the prize for being the only one to finish a project on Saturday:
working on a pleated scarf.  
It's hard to tell in the picture because my camera was malfunctioning but this scarf is really cool.  I like the design AND the fabric.  (and the baby bump)
I'm pretty much at a standstill on my t-shirt quilt until I can find the material I want to use for the back.  When I finally take a picture of the front, I'll post it and include a drawing I've made of how I want the back to look.

I'm excited for everyone else to get going on their quilts.  Since we were all at The Judson at the same time, give or take a year, we have mostly the same shirts.  But we all have different ideas on how we want our quilts to look.  It's going to be fun to see 3, 4 or 5, (or 6 more) Judson t-shirt quilts finished.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daughter's Trip to See The Nutcracker

Before Christmas Daughter and C went on their annual trip to see The Nutcracker. (Last year one or both of them fell asleep before intermission and we had a little higher hopes for this year.)

Daughter was SO excited.  Excited to see C.  Excited to see the ballerinas. And excited to see a story she was more familiar with this year than she was last year.

(mostly) patiently waiting for the show to start

waiting, waiting, waiting (we really had FANTASTIC seats)
reenacting her favorite part - When Clara throws her shoe at the Mice King.  The people behind us  were pretty certain she was actually about to launch the shoe at them.  Luckily, she's an excellent pretender.
The girls (who are 4 and 3.5, btw) did excellent.  Especially considering they aren't 10, but, ya know, 4 and 3.5.   We ended up making it through intermission and almost all of the second half.  It was a fun time.  Next year we're pretty sure they'll make it to the end ... with their dads.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Food Day Friday: Buffalo Chicken Wraps (BAKED)

It's been almost 2 years since my Egg Roll post. and wouldn't you know, this is pretty much like egg rolls ... except, well ... it's close.

This is a pinterest recipe I found and the original blog post it came from woman's blog who started eating healthier and exercising and lost a lot of weight.  (everything I want to do, but I seem to be doing it much slower than she did!) Visit her blog for lots more healthy recipes.   

She actually had these listed under the appetizer section, but we eat about 4 or 5 of them and call it dinner. 

what you need:
we use 4 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded) a bag of cole slaw,  Blue or Gorgonzola cheese (we actually mixed both kinds with this batch), buffalo sauce (we use Texas Pete Regular (and mild) and of course the egg roll wrappers.  (Also, to make it more kid friendly, I reserved one chicken breast for the kids and used ranch dressing for it instead of buffalo sauce)
What you do:
preheat the oven to 400 (that's right, BAKED not fried)
Coat the shredded chicken with buffalo sauce (or ranch)
Fill the wrappers to taste.   Husband prefers chicken heavy, I prefer slaw heavy.  But he's the better wrapper so we eat chicken heavy ones.
spray the pan so your wraps won't stick (I also like to spray the tops before I put them in for a crispier browner wrapper)
cook for 16 minutes at 400.
What you get:
We cook ours in two batches and this is batch number 1.
I think 21 wrappers come in a pack and depending on your chicken/cheese/slaw ratio, you can make 21 wraps out of this.  

We cooked these Tuesday night (after Husband for back from NOLA for the BCS National Championship game) and the kids both ate one each, I had 6, Husband had 7 or 8 and then there were 3 leftover for Husband to take the lunch.  They're a big hit with us.  We make them almost every week.  And since they really do crisp up well in the oven, we've decided to start making our eggrolls like this too, instead of frying them.

Also, my spice love husband dips his in Regular Texas Pete.  I dip mine in a mixture of ranch dressing and the mild Texas Pete

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SBS Blocks 19, 20 & 21

December was the month of applique.  WOW, lots of applique. This is my first time to do applique "for real"  I played around with it a little when I first got my new machine.  But I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing was "right" or even how to make my poor attempt better.  So, this really was a fun month of learning for me.

For these blocks, I decided to make the backgrounds cream, so the applique would stand out better.  But I still wanted my "main green" to be the focal feature of each block.  I'm not an expert yet, but I'm a lot better and I'm pretty pleased with how the blocks turned out.

Blocks 19, 20 & 21

Block 19: Orange Windows
this is my new FAVORITE block (yea, yea I know.  I say that a lot.)  I'm just really pleased with how my color placement worked out.  I love the green petals in the middle.  We used raw edge applique on this one with Heat N Bond.  This is my first time to ever use Heat N Bond.  And let me tell you, I'm hooked.  LOVE IT.  After I finished this block, I actually sat down with some graph paper and drew out a couple of patterns of how to turn this one block into an entire quilt.  fun times.
 Block 20: Circles
With this block the edges are finished or turned under.  Harder  than the  simple raw edge method.  I chose Cheater Needle Point Applique as my method to turn my edges under.  Mainly, because I thought it would be the easiest method for me to do.  And it was pretty easy.  I liked it.  But I definitely think that in the future, when the situation arises that I need/want to applique something, it's RAW EDGE with Heat N Bond all the way!
Block 21: Applique Pattern of Choice.  I chose Tulip Trees
With a list of blocks to choose from, I chose Tulip Trees.  It just so happened that the block that I thought was the prettiest, also looked the easiest.  Sheer coincidence on that one!  I really like the way it turned out, color choices and such.  BUT I used an orange washable crayola marker to mark my fabric ... and I'm less than thrilled at how it looks after my attempt to hand wash it.  yes, I know I could serge the edges and throw it in the washing machine.  But I decided not to mess with it anymore.  It'll have to wait until it's quilted and washed before it's orange free.  I did go to walmart later that night to get an invisible ink marker.  I'm finished with the orange mess.  
So, this month I not only learned how to applique, but I also learned the important of disappearing ink!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Travel Pillow turned Rice Pack

When I made my scented rice pack, I also made one for Tina and Tena H. (my mom).  My mother said when my brother saw hers, he expressed something like disbelief that I could make something like that and also a suggestion that I should make one in a U shape specifically for neck use.

1. Thanks, Bro. 'Preciate ya.
2. hmm, yes.  That's a pretty good idea.

And, as always, Pinterest came through for me.  I found a tutorial for a U shaped travel pillow.  And figured, sure, I could fill it with rice instead of stuffing.  

The tutorial was really easy to follow.  In fact, sewing it was the fastest part.  Cutting out all the little squares is what took so long!

I used the black/grey/white/yellow wal-mart fabric that I already had scraps of at home. (seriously, if you ever want to do something nice for me, buy me more of this fabric.  I love having it on hand for impromptu jobs!)  In fact, if we weren't out of rice, I could have done the entire project in under an hour and not had to go to the store.

the front before I added the rice

the back

filled with rice.  I have no clue how much rice I put in.  I just kept adding it until I felt like I  should stop so I'd have enough free space to sew the whole up.  
The only thing I did differently from the tutorial was top stitch around the edges.  I figured since I was using rice instead of poly-fil, the more reinforcements the better.

While I wouldn't call this a gender neutral fabric choice, I don't think it's overly feminine.  It should be something he and his wife would feel comfortable using.  Also, I added lavender to the rice ... and, well, that part may have made it feminine.  ;-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Homemade Christmas gifts

For the past two (or three, I don't even remember) Husband and I have made "goodie bags" for our families for Christmas.  This year, since I actually know how to sew, I decided to make a reusable tote for the goodies to go in.  We were giving 6 bags total. One for my parents, my sister's family unit, my bothers's family unit, Husband's parents, his sister's family unit and "Cousin Jessie" as Son loves to call her now, got her own.  That's right, no sharing for her.  Unless she takes pity on her parents. :-)

This might have been my favorite bag.  But really, I liked all the fabric a lot. So, it was hard to pick.  All six bags were different.  Since "tacky sweaters" were all the rage this year, I think there's a bit of tongue and cheek irony to this one.  I think the name of the pattern was "tree and rabbit sweater"  I also got it in blue.

inside the bag: homemade chex mix, homemade fudge, homemade butterfinger bars and homemade gingerbread men

Chex mix:  I mostly follow the directions on the box.  More pretzels, more nuts, more spices ... but mostly the same.

The Fudge: I promised my mom I wouldn't give out this recipe until after the died.

The homemade butterfinger bars:  oh. my.  Mandy told me about these last year and I've been thinking about them ever since.  I used this "recipe"   She recommends waiting a day or two to let the bars "set" before you dip them in chocolate.  I left mine uncut for a day.  Cut them and then let them set for another day.  seriously fabulous and really easy ... except for the whole waiting two days thing.

The gingerbread men:  Husband and the kids made these (gingerbread isn't really my thing).  I'm pretty sure he just used a recipe he found online.  The kids decorated the cookies with milk chocolate.

I wanted to add buttered pecans as a 5th container, but our pecan tree was pitiful this year.  We barely collected enough pecans for 1 pie!  eh, maybe next year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the 2011 Nativity Scene Additions

This year, I added 3 new nativity scenes to my collection.  I'm to the point where most of the nativity scenes I see look a lot like ones I already have.  I'm always on the lookout for interesting/nontraditional ones.  Maybe even something that would wind up on The list of worst nativity scenes (thanks, KVS) mainly for conversation purposes.

Anyway, here are the 3 newest ones.  In no particular order:

Mom picked up this one for me at a discount store called Garden Ridge.  One of the wise men 's arms fell off and are hot glued back on AND a smurf joined the celebration to present baby Jesus with a wreath.  I really like the "vintage" paint style on these.

This one was a prize from JSS months and months ago.  After Thanksgiving, I pulled it out with big plans that each member of our family would paint 3 pieces of the 12 piece set. I told Husband that I called dibs on baby Jesus.  He was the only one I wanted to paint ...
 (also notice the kids' picture with Santa in the background. Apparently, much like Jesus, Santa is always watching.  ;-))
dibs does not count with 4 year olds.  Daughter pleaded her case that because she loves baby Jesus so much she should be the one who got to paint him.  She won.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that what I pictured in my head as being a lovely family moment of painting and talking about Jesus's birth and just enjoying each other, turned into me losing my patience and yelling something I don't even remember but I do remember it wasn't Christ-like and it definitely wasn't a shiny example of how to parent toddlers.  (sigh)   I think I let my resentment about having to settle for painting a shepherd, Mary and a sheep cloud my judgement on that one.

this final one I picked up at Jo-ann when I was yarn shopping right before Thanksgiving.

We had a great Christmas.  Lots of fun, food and family time.  We talked a lot about Mr. Scrooge and the Christmas spirit and, of course, about Baby Jesus.