Monday, August 31, 2009

Apple Harvest Time!

September makes me think of apples, especially when the weather starts cooling down as it has here. Every fall, our extended family gathers for a trip to Missouri apple country to stock up for the winter. We get not only apples but also apple butter; I think my brother-in-law got a whole case of jars last year! When my children were smaller, we'd often team up with other home schoolers and go apple picking at a local orchard. My husband and I would also round up the kids each fall and go to a local apple cider mill to watch the machines in action and feast on apple cider doughnuts. I hope we were making some special memories for our children; I know I certainly look back on those trips with fondness!

When I was a teacher, I got a lot of apple-themed gifts from students. So I eventually decided to decorate my kitchen with an apple motif. My husband is a career teacher, so he still gets apple goodies! We're apple crazy around here. :)

Now I'm in the mood for some yummy apple recipes. Before I became a candle maker, I used to can my own apple butter. Fortunately, my teenaged son still cans his homemade apple sauce. Here are some good looking apple recipes I found.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dairy-Free Fruit Smoothies

I love dairy, but it hates me! So I make dairy-free fruit smoothies to get my fruit servings for the day!

1 cup fruit juice - apple, orange, or your favorite
1 small banana
1 cup frozen mixed fruit (strawberries, peaches, etc.) - I don't actually measure; I just toss in a handful or two.

Whir it all in a blender and enjoy. Simple!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Bounty Pasta

My daughter and I love to experiment with food, especially when presented with a bounty of summer garden crops! Today she cooked whole wheat pasta, chopped up some fresh veggies from our garden, then tossed it all with a little dressing, piling grilled chicken strips on top. Delish meal, and not too stuffy for warm weather eating! Here's what we used.

13 oz. whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente and drained, then rinsed in cold water
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 bell peppers, diced
4-5 small Roma tomatoes, diced
salt to taste
Kraft Cucumber Ranch dressing to taste
boneless, skinless grilled chicken strips on top (1/2 breast per person satisfies us)

Hearty enough to satisfy; light enough to not feel stuffed!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good News, Bad News

Hurrah! I'm CELEBRATING! I hit a milestone in my Etsy shop yesterday. I hit my 1,000th sale! I've been hoping for that for over a year, so I'm happy. Now off to work on that next hundred. :)

In the bad news department, my 18 year old son got a hankering to bake a cake from scratch last night. Found an awesome recipe for a Maple Syrup Cake online. Frosted it with thick, butter-rich frosting, then topped it with pecans. GAH. Bad news is I will probably eat 4/5 of it and gain 5 lbs. GAH. It's TO DIE FOR!!

Oh, and don't forget to enter KC Etsy Team's Countdown to Christmas - Great Blog Giveaway! The team is giving away awesome prizes every week until December. This team is seriously loaded with talent! This week, you can win fun free lip balm, and who doesn't need that? You'll want to check the blog weekly to see what great goodies we've got planned. I'm excited about the giveaway!

Monday, August 17, 2009


"CLEAR THE COTTAGE" CLEARANCE SALE! AMAZING, UNBEATABLE LOW PRICES!! Candles for only $5.95! See my special clearance section:

NEW FOR FALL! Tons of yummy new candles for fall! Check 'em out!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knitting vs. Crocheting

I absolutely adore self-striping cotton yarns! Been experimenting with them lately, so I decided to try making two dishclothes using the same skein, but knitting one and crocheting the other. This way, it's easy to observe the differences in appearance and texture.

The knit is on bottom left, and the crocheted is to the right and top of the picture. Knitting with size 8 needles in stockinette stitch produced a lighter weight, thinner dishcloth, but with a tighter weave. The crocheted version is chunkier but with more spaces between stitches; I made it with a G hook and used just single crochet and chain stitches.

I thought maybe this can help someone who's contemplating a project, or for someone who may be trying to decide between learning to knit or crochet. I love to do both, so don't ask for an opinion about which is better! The honest answer is that it depends on the look I'm going for and the speed required to complete the process; I take longer to knit an item than I do to crochet an item that's the same size.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

True Wealth

I get the blues now and then, like most people. But I can usually shake them off by remembering how truly rich I am. Money? American standards, I'm not very wealthy at all. But I am an oil baron in terms of intangibles - things that can't be evaluated in terms of dollars. I have the freedom and the mobility to plant flowers in my own yard, and healthy vision so I can admire the beauty of the blossoms. I can eat twice a day or five times if I'm so inclined. My home is warm in the winter and cool in summertime. My family is supportive and loving. I have a network of friends who would give me their last dollar if I were in need. I am rich in faith.

Nobody's life is free from suffering. We all carry hidden heartaches. But when I look at the big picture, I've got the world by the tail. "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred." So very true.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The KC Etsy Team is sponsoring "COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS," an 18-week long blog giveaway! For more details, and to enter for your chance to win your choice of a free bar of soap from me, go here!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Votive Tutorial, Part 2

Step 1: On your scale, weigh out ½ lb. of the wax and put into your melting pot or coffee can. Always weigh your wax when making candles. If using a coffee can, bend a small pouring spout into the top.

Step 2: (Optional) Weigh out ½ oz. of candle making fragrance oil into a small glass container and set aside. Always weigh your fragrance oil when making candles. Do not exceed this amount; the wax will not be able to hold excess fragrance oil.

Step 3: If using new votive molds, you may want to spray candle mold release into the cups. Gently wipe excess off with paper towel. If votive molds have been used before, this step is probably not necessary; just make sure the molds are clean of wax from previous pours.

Step 4: (Optional) If using wick pins, place these into the molds. If they are new, spray them with candle mold release and wipe off excess with paper towel before inserting into molds.

Step 5: Cover your work surface with newspapers in case of spills. Place prepared votive cups onto the newspaper. Keep paper towels handy for wiping up spills and drips.

Step 6: Place water in double boiler and set wax pot gently into water to melt. IMPORTANT: DO NOT LEAVE MELTING WAX UNATTENDED! Watch it like a hawk; wax can heat to dangerously high temperatures in a short amount of time. Once you have a little liquefied wax in the pot, place the candy thermometer into the melted wax, taking care that the bulb is not touching the melting pot. Heat wax to 175-180 degrees F, taking care that no water from the double boiler splashes into the melting wax.

Step 7: If you’re using a coffee can, use pot holders for this step! Remove melted wax from heat and place on heat-safe surface. With your wooden craft stick, stir fragrance oil thoroughly into melted wax. I use a small whisk to make sure all oil is thoroughly incorporated, but take care not to agitate so much that you are adding air bubbles to the wax. Always add fragrance oil BEFORE adding color so that you can see that the oil is fully incorporated before the dye obscures your clear view.

Step 8: (Optional) Add a drop or two of liquid candle dye, if desired. Stir gently but thoroughly with your stick.

Step 9: Have paper towels handy for drips and spills. Pour wax carefully into molds all the way to the tip top. Avoid incorporating air into the molds while pouring. You will notice that not all the wax in your pouring pot will be used; this is what you want. You want to reserve a small amount of wax (about 1/5 of the total) for the second pour, when we will be topping off the candles. (Wax shrinks as it cools, leaving a sunken area in the middle.) Do not touch molds
after pouring, as they will be very HOT.

Step 10: If not using wick pins, wait a few minutes until the wax is starting to set up (congeal) on the sides of the mold tops. (The time this takes will vary according to the ambient temperature.) Now there will be a bit of congealed wax at the bottom of the mold as well, so you can insert your pre-tabbed wicks and they will stay in place. Gently place these wicks into the middle of the votives. Do not worry about marring the surface of the candle if the wax has a thin skin; we will fix that later on the second pour. If not using wick pins, check the wicks periodically as the candle cools; the cooling, shrinking wax may pull wicks slightly off center. Just gently push them back into place if needed. Sometimes I use strategically-placed craft sticks to keep the wick more centered as the candle cools.

Step 11: When the candles have completely cooled, it’s time to re-melt your leftover wax. This time you want to heat to a temperature of 185-190 degreesF in your double boiler. Pouring about 10 degrees hotter the second time will ensure your layers will adhere and not come apart when the candles are fully cooled. Again, pour to the tip top to ensure you don’t have seam line where the two layers met.

Step 12: When candles are completely cooled, they should slide from the molds. If using wick pins, I gently tug those straight up and out to release the candle. If your candles refuse to release, chances are they are not fully and completely cool. Be patient! If they are fully cool and won’t budge, try putting the mold into the freezer for a short time. (Just a few minutes though, or the candle may crack.) This brief freezer time usually does the trick. If using wick pins, remove pins and insert wick assembly from the bottom of the candle.

Step 13: If there are surface irregularities on the candles, you may want to buff gently with pantyhose.

Step 14: Trim your wicks and enjoy burning your votives! If you used scent, you may want to wait a day or two for the candle to cure. Remember, votives are not meant to be free-standing candles. They are meant to completely liquefy and must be burned in a snug votive holder. They should burn completely up (or nearly so) and take about 15 hours to finish burning. If your candle does not burn well, make sure it's burning out of a draft and that the wick is trimmed. If you still don't get a good burn, you may need to experiment with adjusting the size of your wick on the next batch. Certain scents may need a slightly different size of wick.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tutorial: How to Make Votive Candles

Today I will post the items you will need for this project so you can begin collecting what you need. Then the directions for making the candles will follow in a few days! To make your own votive candles, you will need the following items.

  1. Four 2-ounce (15 hour) votive molds
  2. Four votive wick pins (optional)
  3. Double boiler
  4. Candle pouring pot or clean, empty coffee can with a pouring spout bent into the top
  5. Stove
  6. Kitchen scale
  7. Candy thermometer
  8. 1/2 pound paraffin votive/pillar wax
  9. Four 36-24-24 zinc core wick assemblies (pre-tabbed)
  10. 1/2 oz. candle fragrance oil (optional)
  11. Candle dye (optional)
  12. Candle mold release, if using new molds
  13. Small glass container
  14. Craft sticks for stirring wax
  15. Newspapers
  16. Paper towels

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I know I'm pushing it a bit, but I LOVE FALL! The weather is cooler and drier. Nights are mellow. And here is another one of the reasons why autumn is my favorite season - I adore the scents associated with fall. I just added this to my fall line-up, and it's strong, juicy, and tart! Just like fresh, crisp Bartlett pears. See it here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I'm so excited about these wonderful new soy candle scents! I could eat them! (Well, almost!!)

This luscious Pumpkin Creme Brulee soy candle features notes of creamy pumpkin puree along with French vanilla, freshly-ground spices like cinnamon and cardamom, rum, maple, and caramelized sugar. TO. DIE. FOR!!

Or how about a fresh, pure, sweet, Wild Honey soy candle? The name says it all!
Anyone who has known me for longer than 2 minutes realizes I'm a real scent junkie, and I couldn't be more happy than when I'm enjoying new fragrances. *SWOON!*