Monday, January 30, 2012

scrap paper magnets

They were making these magnets at Michael's one day (or was it Craft Warehouse?) and after making one in the store I was sold on buying all the goods to make our own at home.  It's a great use for all those scraps of pretty paper that you can't bear to throw out, but have not idea what you're going to do with them.  These were one of the things we gave as Christmas gifts this year.  You don't need much, some strong magnets to glue on the back with a strong glue, these round clear glass things that you can buy at craft stores, the glue pictured below that works great on glass and some nice paper.  Through experimentation I discovered that slightly thicker paper works the best.  We made a few with newspaper print and the glue sort of ruined the print before it dried.   

This is the glue we used to affix the paper to the glass round.  We just put a few drops of glue on the glass and then placed the glass on the paper (print side).  We tested it first to see where it should be  placed, but the glue is pretty forgiving and if you make a mistake you can remove it before it dries. 

Here are a few waiting to dry. 

This is the glue we used to adhere the magnets to the back after we trimmed them.  It's pretty toxic smelling, so I took them outside to do and let them dry out there too. 

This was very kid friendly project.  My five year old loved to count out the number of magnets and glass rounds we would need and  to pick the paper we would use for each magnet.  I did the gluing, but after they were dry he trimmed the edges. 

I saw a set similar to these in a store a few days after we make them.  They were selling for 6 for 15.00.  I didn't exactly add up the cost, but maybe they were .25 each?  I really love all the possibilities of combining colors and prints.  We plan to make these again soon.  We got so into making them for everyone else that we forgot to make a set for ourselves. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Peak at Panama

sloths  monkeys  spanish  leaf cutter ants  taxis  fevers  anteater  ice cream  grandparents  surreys  sand  noisy buses  christmas  santa will find us anywhere  tall empty buildings  ships ships ships  rain forest  tinytinytiny frogs  howler monkeys in a storm  budget hotels  luxury hotels  giant woodpeckers  more fevers  worried mommy  malaria?  long plane rides  nikos  parades  bounce castles  cabana  lost reservations  being together  birds  canopy  train  canal  babies  food

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Candle Post


I've been wanting to write about my candle making experience, but first I needed to put some distance between myself and 12 lbs. of beeswax.  I was making candles almost daily before the holidays.  It's not that 12 lbs. is sooo much, but when you only have a few molds, it's a drawn out process and my product seemed to get increasingly worse as I went along.  So, by no means am I an expert, but in the end they turned out pretty well (and once they were lit all the flaws that I was obsessing over just melted away).  Here are a few things I learned along the way...

The wax...
I got a bulk discount at a great store in Portland called the Portland Homestead Supply.  I LOVE this store, it has all of the things you can't find anywhere but online and they offer lots of great classes, like pig butchering (I found myself interested in signing up, but only if they started with a live pig.  Is that strange?) Initially, I found beeswax a bit cheaper online, but after they said they'd give me a bulk discount it was much cheaper to support the local guy and not pay for shipping.  I paid 8.00 a lb.  BUT, I have recently discovered that I could get it from a local beekeeper for around 4.00 a lb.  I'll go that route next time, but thus far the beekeeper hasn't returned my calls. 

To break the wax it was easiest to put it in the freezer for a bit and then use a chisel and hammer to break chunks apart, and satisfying too.  Cutting it with a warm knife did not really cut it (pun intended).  I must say though that my first batch of candles used from the wax that I didn't freeze before cutting turned out the best.  I'm not sure if it was beginners luck or if freezing the wax somehow changed the chemical structure.  I couldn't find any reference to this, but I also couldn't really figure out why after the first batch I got more cracking after the candles set. 

The tools...

I just picked up some molds, wick and wick holders from Portland Homestead Supply and got the melt pot from Goodwill.   Lots of people suggested using a separate pot as your double broiler, but I found that if I just warmed everything I used in the oven afterwards that the wax came off easily with a dry towel.  I guess if I was using other waxes I wouldn't want it to mix with our food ware, but I wasn't too worried about beeswax tainting our food. 

At first I tried to tie the wicks to skewers, but that didn't really work.  I found that wooden clothes pins were the best option for the votives (just clip the clothes pin before pouring wax, hold it aside and then center it after the wax is poured).  I also had some pillar molds, but they came with wick holders and putty to keep them in place. 

As mentioned above, I did get lots of cracking in the candles.  For the life of me I can't figure out why.  I troubleshooted left and right, but couldn't come up with any resolutions or conclusions.  The best thing about the candles are if you really don't like the way it turned out you can just remelt the wax and start over, sometimes the wick is even salvagable.  But, having this option meant that I poured about twice as many candles as I ended up with.  The other nice thing about having cracking problems, as opposed to other problems I read about is that once the candles were lit and then cooled you couldn't tell at all.  

I did some calculations as to how much money I saved making my own and depending on what source you went with for prices, it was a lot.  Wax isn't cheap and the molds aren't either, but store bought beeswax candles are expensive! 

I think I'm ready to harass the beekeeper some more and go for another round (without the pressure of an early Christmas gift exchange).  I loved the way the house smelled like honey for the month leading up to Christmas.  And they are very nice to have lit around the house. 

Oh, and the candle holders were just some burlap stamped and cut to fit a glass candle holder and then glued with a hot glue gun.  I kind of like the way they turned out, maybe a bit too plain?  I made a few of these too from an idea I found over on pinterest.   I really liked the way they turned out.  It's a great use of extra thread on a bobbin.  I didn't make a mold, I just wrapped the thread around the glass and then painted some modge podge on.  I was a bit worried the glue would melt when they were lit (or smell bad) but neither occurred. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's we've been up to...

There is a back log of blog entries I've been wanting to write, but just haven't had the time or I've had the time but have been just too tired at night to sit down and write.  So, here is a quick flashback of what we've been up to the last month. My plan is to do some detailed blogs on these in the future. 

Eason and I made these magnets for Christmas gifts using paper scraps we had in the paper box including some origami paper that I got from our exchange student when I was in 7th grade!

Our house turned into a beeswax candle making factory for about three weeks in December.  I loved the smell of honey that filled our house, but after making 12 lbs. worth of candles I'm ready for a wee break from candle making.

Eason, of his own volition, began to write.  My idea has been to follow the Waldorf philosophy on learning letters and reading, but after staving him off he decided to take it upon himself to copy down all of the letters that he sees on signs, boxes, in books, etc.  He walks around the house with a paper and pen and loves to have us read back the gibberish "words" that he forms.

Pears, pears, pears.  We now live in a huge pear producing area and have benefited from it.  We've been poaching pears, drying pears, eating fresh pears and...

making cranberry pear sauce from a great recipe that a friend gave us (that I would include, but can't locate at this moment.  

We also made some mulling spice sachets for stocking stuffers.  And just mysteriously found them in the art box after having given up on them for good.  Late January stocking stuffers are always appreciated.  

We rode the Polar Express.  Thanks Aunt Michlain and Brent.

Eason started to sew and wowed me by embroidering his name when I wasn't looking. 

We played in the leaves and decided not to bag these up as yard debris as they were too pretty and now they've been incorporated in to our snowmen and snow forts.  

We found new ways to use all the chestnuts we collected (that were horribly bitter when we roasted them making Mommy question if they were really chestnuts and decided instead of poisoning the family they should be relegated to decoration only).  

Threw this together after being inspired to do so over on soulemama.

Spent Christmas in Panama.  

And last, but certainly not least, Eason started school.  We are one of the newest families to join the Gorge Discovery School, a two day a week program for homeschooled kids.  It's amazing, a shockingly perfect fit for us and just one more thing to make the move last year much easier.