Saturday, January 18, 2014

Make Your Own Candle Tarts

Recently I wrote about saving our bar soap slivers in a bag to use up the whole bar.  I used acrylic yarn to make the bags, and I wasn't sure about the bag drying well.  I found they dried very well and have worked out great.

Besides saving all my soap slivers, I don't like to throw away candles that  have burned down to the wick either.  There is a lot of good wax left in the bottom of a candle jar.

It is fun to make scented tarts from the leftover wax.  Tart burners are great because there is no flame to worry about but the little tea light tart burners are pretty safe also.  The first thing you need to do is melt the old wax from the jar.  You can put the jar in really hot water or the microwave.  Just be careful that there is no metal left in the jar or on the label if you put it in the microwave. Melting with hot water in a double boiler or in an electric candle warmer is the safest.

This is an electric jar candle warmer.

When the wax has been melted, it can be carefully poured into a mold.  The best thing to use are the silicone cupcake forms.  When cooled, the tart pops out perfectly.  Metal forms work but they conduct the heat so they are hard to handle until cooled.

A tart warmer using a tea candle.

An electric tart warmer.

You can buy the little individually wrapped tarts, but they cost at least $2.00 each.  With a little effort these can be made for nothing and it's fun too.

*It has come to my attention that using regular paraffin wax could be hazardous to your health.  This is a link that talks about that and tells how to make tarts with Beeswax, coconut oil and natural ingredients.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Repairing a Damaged Hat

Last week my daughter called very upset.  Her darling little puppy had chewed on her favorite hat.  Piper puppy is 4 1/2 months now and is getting better but......she still forgets and chews things she shouldn't.

The hat was not just any hat.  It was one they purchased on a trip to Ireland, and she likes it.  There are many photos of her wearing it.

It's the perfect winter hat for her.

So one day when I was at her house, I saw it laying on the table.  She wondered if I could try to fix it.  I had my doubts because it looked pretty bad, but I said I would try.  It took me a while to find some matching yarn.  It isn't black and it wasn't the gray I had in my stash.  It is a dark charcoal gray which isn't that easy to find.  I took my swatch with me everywhere and finally found something close.  I only needed a few yards, but I had to buy a whole skein.  The good part is that I will have enough leftover to make another headband.

I wasn't sure if I could make it as good as new.

The first thing I did was take out all the broken threads and unraveled enough to tie off.  Then I threaded and secured the yarn in the part of the hat that was stable.  I began knitting, securing each end by picking up a good solid stitch.  After a few rows, I bound off and sewed to the back.  It's a little bumpy, but I think she will get a little more wear out of it.

What do you think?  Good as new?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Easy Way To Count Calories

It is recipe day but today I am doing something different.  I have been trying to count my calories.  It always happens in the dead of winter when I can't get out to exercise or get my mind off food.  Then when I can get out, my mind starts thinking about other things and I get past the need to be skinny (or even a little thinner).  I got on the Wii for the first time since last winter.  I got the fat avatar with the music indicating "Overweight".  What's new, I will probably never be "normal".

Seriously, I have found two websites that are really quite good.  The first one is one where you can enter all the ingredients for a recipe and it calculates the calories.  I did it for the Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes that I posted last Tuesday.

You just cut and paste the recipe, put the number of servings in and click analyze.  It is shocking sometimes to see the total calories and how fast they add up.  You have to either save or burn 3600 calories to lose just one pound.  I'm sure there are tons of sites that do the same thing.  I have no investment in any of them, but it really makes things easy.

The one I use the most is My Fitness Pal.  It links up wirelessly with the Fitbit I got for Christmas.  The Fitbit counts a persons steps and gives calorie credit for  them, but the fitness pal website can be used on its own.  There is a free app for it so all you do is enter your food, and it keeps track of the calories including the breakdown of carbs, fats, protein, sodium and other things.  We all have our phone with us most of the time, and it only takes a second to do.  If you don't want to use the phone the website does the same thing.  It couldn't be easier, the problem is Not grabbing the donut or cookie.  It is amazing what we eat that we don't even realize we are eating.

I have always said that losing weight is easy but keeping it off is the tough part.  Don't ask how I am doing with this.  If I look thinner in the Spring, then I am doing it.  If I don't, then it's my own fault.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Time To Try A Suet Log

As anyone who has read my blog knows,  I love the wild birds.  We feed them all year around.  I know some people feel they don't need to be fed in the summer, but we still do.  The weather determines how much food they eat, and when there is plenty of natural food they don't eat as much from the feeders.   It is costly and sometimes it is a pain to tromp through the snow.  It also makes a huge mess.  All the shells and uneaten seed have to be raked up in the spring.  Actually, we have so much that it needs to be shoveled off the ground.  If you don't want to bother with the expense or mess but like to see the birds, I have a solution.  We buy suet logs.  They come in a mesh bag which can be hung.

Birds like chickadees, juncos and nuthatches love it but especially the woodpeckers. We use a hanger which has three suction cups, and it attaches to the window.  We use it for the suet log in the winter and a hummingbird feeder in the summer.  Suet gets soft in the summer and the grackles will eat it up too fast.  When they are frozen in the winter, the logs last a long time, they only cost about $2.50 and it keeps the woodpeckers off our house. 

New suet log hanging in the window.

This one is almost gone.

Downy Woodpecker enjoying a snack.

We also use several suet cake feeders.  These are popular too, but don't last nearly as long.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beautiful Sunday In January

This is a beautiful Sunday in January 2014.  We just lived through some bitter cold temperatures but today it is approaching 40 degrees at noon.  It's hard to believe that the temperature has risen almost 60 degrees in six days.  The grass is peeking through and the snow is melting.

Grass and leaves showing through the snow.

Icicle dripping from the corner of the house.

This is probably only temporary, but we will take it.  Mother nature has a way of giving us all that we can take and then gives us a little break once in a while.