Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make your own: colored beeswax candles and giveaway

A little while ago I posted about our birhday party, and how I made some candles using some Agee jars I had lying around (after being inspired by some photos of tea cup candles in a magazine).
They were super easy to make, just a bit time consuming, especially since I wanted to make layers of various colors. After first trying with some water based food coloring and failing miserably, I used some of Tahi's broken wax crayons. They worked a treat!
So, if you want to make some at home, all you need is some beeswax (you can buy some on Trademe), some colored crayons and some candle wick (also on Trademe).
Once you've decided what kind of container you want to use, cut some candlewick slightly longer that the depth of the said container. Tape one end to a chopstick or any other stick. Rest the stick on the top of the container. You can get different thicknesses of candle wick, mine is a 60 ply. Basically the bigger the container, the thicker the wick (from my understanding, correct me if I'm wrong).

If you are going to color the beeswax, select the crayons you want to use. Meanwhile melt the beeswax in a pot. You can either use a double boiler or put it straight on the element with the heat as low as possible. Experiment with the amount of beeswax used, I used one block per layer of color, each block weighing about 70g.

And if you're wondering if you can use one of your kitchen pots without ruining it, you can. Once you've finished with the melting, simply add vegetable oil to the pot, smear it all over to make sure it mixes with all the beeswax, then wash with dishwashing liquid. Your pot should be as new.
Once most of the beeswax has melted, add the crayons and take the pot off the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the wax is a uniform color. Add more crayons if you wish. Then transfer the liquid into your jar/ teacup/ whatever container you wish to use as a candle.

Voila. If you wish to make different layers of colors, make sure you wash your pot in between colors, otherwise you might end up with a dark brownish wax for your last layers! Leave the wax to cool. Make sure the previous layer has cooled down completely or the two layers will mix!
I also experimented with how much to fill the jars and found that leaving about 5cm gap at the top worked best for a good bright flame. The jars that were filled pretty much to the top weren't as bright and tended to go out (mainly because of the wind).
This is the result of my first jar. You can see the layers of colors are not that different and not very bright. I tried using natural pigments (namely turmeric and cinnamon) and probably didn't put enough, and the green was made with crayons but too few to my taste.

Here are the four candles I made, I was pretty stoked with the results, especially the blue and pink ones.

Now for the giveaway... I am giving away TWO candle making kits. They include a block of wax (about 70g), some 60 ply candle wick and enough crayons to get a nice vibrant color!

To enter, just leave a comment. Entries close on the 7th of MArch (in a week). Good luck!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

for the eyes

A post in photos...

Before catching a plane to Melbourne we spent a few days in Auckland. Tahi loved going to the zoo. I'm not usually a big fan of these places and can' stop staring at the animal and saying I'm sorry in my head. In saying that, the Auckland zoo is very proactive and making sure its visitors are made aware of issues threatening most animals in the wild, namely loss of habitat. They are putting a big emphasis on palm oil and encouraging customers to use their buying power to express their discontent. Palm oil is the cause of deforestation in some asian countries and has meant that orang-utans are seriously threatened in the wild. They didn't mention anything about the new zealand dairy industry using palm kernels as a feed supplement though...

I loved getting a big city fix and if anything I wish we'd had an extra week to check a few exhibitions and do some more op shopping.

Our friends live in a very cool art deco house in Carnegie. The public transport system is amazing, we got to their house from the airport no problem at all and the kids did really well, considering they'd been up since 3.30am that morning, spent 4 hours in the plane, then 20mn in a bus and another good half hour in the train then in another bus.
Southern cross train station, bright and early.

We all slept in the same bed although I sometimes found it hard to squeeze in.
 ON our first night, once the kids were all in bed we set to making sausages.

 WE spent a day at the beach, the kids loved it of course!

 We even found time to get a bit crafty. We set out to make a sunhat out of a japanese craft book Stephanie had. It turned out to be a bit of a mission but the results were very satisfying. To anyone who has a japanese craft book and can't read japanese: the patterns don't include the seam allowance! The first sunhat we made turned out to be too small but ended up fitting stephanie's 2 year old like a glove.

 We were lucky to see two of Theo Jansen's crazy moving sculptures. They're even more amazing in real life!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The day we got back

The house had changed yet again, for the better. Josh (and friends) did an amazing job doing up the kitchen, wow, we live in a real house! There are a few touch ups here and there but the hardest, messiest part is done. How nice to come back to this.

I can't stop being in awe at the beauty of it. You might think this looks just like any other kitchen and you're right. So what the fuss? If you've never been to our house or if you've forgotten what it looked like before... here's a reminder.

That's why I'm so ecstatic to the point where I'll get up at night and check it's still there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Meanwhile in the garden

We are away in Melbourne for the week. Before I post a new tutorial and giveaway, here's some photos of our summer garden. The tomatoes are starting to ripen, we are loving it (and the rats too).
This year's garlic crop, sun cured and plated but still a bit hairy.

We had some very tall sunflowers this year. And guess what? Yes, the rats got into that too. They managed to climb up the stalks and help themselves to some seeds (with the flower head hanging upside down) and use the top of the flower head as a table. It's war.

A happy healthy tomato tip with cute little yellow flowers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The past few weeks

I seem to be only capable of writing one post every few weeks and loading all the photos I've managed to take in that time...  Too busy to slow down. I sometimes wonder if the crazyness of being at home minding two young toddlers and gardening, sewing, trying to keep the house/ building site tidy-ish transpires through these posts... A friend told me the other day she thought we actually liked living in a messy house. I was a bit shocked, I have to admit. Do people think I like living in a house with toys and clothes thrown all over the floor, dishes pilled up by the sink (we don't own a dishwasher) and dust gathering on every single piece of furniture? Should I be madly cleaning everyday to keep the place tidy and let my kids play by themselves, growl at them as soon as they drop some avocado on the floor and teach them to fold and put their clothes away as soon as they can walk? It is my bad luck that I have a partner that couldn't care less if the house looks like we just moved in even though we've been living here for 4 years now, except when we have visitors and then he'll have a full day of spring clean. Maybe we should have dinners and parties more often?
My kids love to eat. They don't seem to feel the same way about tidying their mess

So, to put the record straight, I am definitely not the tidiest person on earth either, but I do like a nice clean house with a good Qi (pronounce "Chi", as in energy flow in Feng Shui) and lots of storage to keep various objects hidden away. When we moved into our house, Tahi was 1 month, we had no furniture apart from a table and a bench and the house was pretty much a building site. Four years down the track the house is still a building site, although very much closer to the finished state. Josh thinks cleaning up and putting things away is a waste of time. I am busy with two kids and a garden, and, as anyone with kids will know, it takes 3 times as long to get things done. I decided a while ago that I wasn't going to stress out about having a clean house and that my sanity and that of our couple was more worth it than a clean house. I might have my priorities wrong and I have clenched my teeth quite a few times at the state of our living quarters but I'm still alive. And slowly getting the house to look a bit more respectable.
Anyway, the couch is close to finished and a welcome addition to our lounge, I have it one pallet hight at the moment with two of the three cushions I planned on making and it looks really cool, is very comfy and actually a nice height for slouching with the kids. I cut out some square of foam from a couch found on the side of the road, luckily they were the perfect thickness.

Pallet couch stage one.
I also broke my New Year's resolution to stop buying fabrics until most of my current stash was gone. We had a clothes swap and I scored a couple of nice bits, including some really nice oilcloth (some of which I used to make a new "make up bag" (now, I don't wear make up, so it's mainly for toothbrushes and various creams and remedies). "That's not technically a breach of New Year Resolution" I though, since the fabric was free...
But then I did buy some fabric last week from a friend who brought it back from China. I'd always wanted some of that red fabric with the beautiful flowers and birds... Damn, only a month into my resolution, I sincerely thought I'd do better than that...
A nice piece of oilcloth fabric. Too good to leave behind!
I used some shower curtain fabric to make the inside pockets.

My New Year's Resolution fail (#1)
I also got round to (finally) making a couple of tunics/ kaftans for Miro to protect his lovely baby skin from the sun. He of course looks very cute in them. I will make some more in time for the shop, it's on my to do list somewhere between twirly skirts and upcycled pants.
I love the fabrics of this tunic! The main fabric is from a summer kimono, a soft delicate white cotton with a dash of blue squares. I used some of the african wax fabric I bought off a friend for the cuffs
This one is a longer night gown version for night time. We have had a relatively crappy summer with some cool nights. This was the perfect outfit so Miro wouldn't get too hot or too cold.
Anyway, I do apologize for my lengthy posts, I will try to be a bit more regular in the future. Well, I hope. And I really appreciate the comments some of you leave, I feel really bad for never answering but I do read them!