Category Archives: D.I.Y.

D.I.Y. Homemade Candles

candle white

Another item I often see going to waste is candle wax.  When a candle (particularly a pillar) burns down, there is usually a good amount of wax leftover that gets tossed into the trash.  At my previous place of employment, they burned large pillar candles.  The round ones were about the size of a basketball.  But even with 3 wicks, the flame would only burn a relatively small hole straight down, leaving copious amounts of wax on the sides to go unused…wasted.

What could one do about this?  Make candles of course!  Our local Michaels craft store just happened to be going out of business at that time and allowed me to grab a few candle making supplies for extra cheap.

You will need:

  • wax
  • wicks
  • glue gun or tape
  • wick centering tool (chopsticks or two pencils works too)
  • melting pot (do not use your good cook ware!)
  • stockpot (go to the dollar store for a cheapy or look on Freecycle!)
  • candle mold or candle container (old glassware perhaps)
  • dye (optional)
  • scent (optional)
  • Thermometer (helpful but not necessary)
STEPS:
  1. Break the wax down as small as possible.  Cut it, smash it, drop it, hammer it…but do it outside because it will make a big mess trust me!  You can skip this step but the melt time will take longer.
  2. Put the wax into the melting pot
  3. Put the melting pot into a stockpot that already has about 2-3 inches of water in it.
  4. Heat on med-low until the wax is completely melted, stirring occasionally to break up the large chunks.  Ideally you are looking for at least 170 degrees or more to insure that all the used wax, scent and oil is melted together.  Do not go much over 200 or you could risk something bad happening!
  5. At this time you could add the coloring if you wish.  Stir to combine.  We like ours clean and white.
  6. Take the melting pot off the heat and allow it to cool.  While it is cooling, you want to add the scent at the final moments before you pour the wax into the mold.  Ideally a lower temperature around 130 degrees.
  7. While the wax cools, glue or tape a wick to the bottom of your container.
  8. After the wax has properly cooled, pour slowly and steadily into your container, trying not to create a lot of bubbles.  Fill to within a half inch of the rim of you container.
  9. Place wick in the centering tool.  Or tape two pencils together with the wick in between them.  Carefully adjusting it so that the wick looks fairly straight.
  10. Allow to cool overnight for at least 24 hours.
  11. Burn and enjoy!
Hmmm, I left out one critical detail…

…one person drinks wine while the other does ALL the work!
! We also sell candles !
More details to come in a future post.  But if you want more info now, just drop us a note and we would be happy to fill you in with all the fine details.
*We do not assume any responsibility for your actions.  Different types of wax, scents, wicks and coloring have different and variable flash points.  Please do your research to learn about the possible dangers of making and burning candles at home.  Not appropriate for kids.  Please do not let your candle burn unattended or burn for longer than 3 hrs at a time.   Please be smart and practice safety first*
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DIY laundry soap

In our quest to become greener and thriftier, we started making our own laundry detergent at home.

laundry detergent

The essential tools.

It is a pretty simple thing to do and will save you a boatload of money.  Now, I haven’t done all the math to show exactly how much it costs, how many loads you can do, how long it normally lasts us, cost per load etc.  But I can tell you that all the ingredients listed in this picture were under $10.  The price for borax has since shot up, but you will get about 10-15 gallons of detergent out of each box.

The first batch we ever made lasted us at 6 months, the next batch lasted closer to a year.  We started out using way more than we needed!  Some people claim to add 5 drops of essential oil to their bucket for some smell good clothing.  I used to be “Tide” obsessed.  Nothing else would do when it came to washing my clothes.  Now, I can’t tell a difference.  But I can tell a huge difference in the $$$ savings per year.

What you will need:

5 Gallon bucket (check Freecycle.com = $0)

2 cups Borax

2 cups Washing Soda (not to be mistaken with baking soda)

1 Bar of Soap (preferably natural ivory soap)

Box Grater

Cooking Pot

2 Quarts Water

Let’s Begin:

Bring water to boil in pot.

melted soap

melting the soap

While you are waiting, finely grate the entire bar of soap the add it to the water.  Stir until the soap is melted.

Add the water mixture to the bucket as well as the Borax and Washing Soda.  Stir to combine.

Add about 3 gallons of hot water, stirring again.

laundry detergent

Pop a lid on it and that’s it!

In the end you, will have a thick, gel-like substance that will need to be shaken or stirred before you scoop it out and into the washer.  Use 1/4 cup of detergent per load of laundry.  Also can be used as a pre-treater for tough stains.

For about 20 minutes worth of time and a few bucks, you have at least half a years worth of detergent for a 2 person household.  Now kick back and relax while your significant other does “your dirty undies Dude… the whites!”

5 Minute Artisan Bread

Delicious warm crusty bread

A friend of ours turned us on to a book  titled, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It has changed my life, and my gut.  I have tried making bread in the past, but it is usually a lengthy process with lots of kneading involved.  A tough thing for someone after ineffective wrist surgery.  The resulting bread was hardly edible.

This book offers another option.  A “no knead” version of bread which literally takes 5 minutes to throw together.  Look at the gif image below to see how quick it is.  You do have to let the dough rest for about 2 hours.  No matter what kind of bread you make, you will have to let it proof for at least that long, so if there is a way to cut out the labor and make an equally awesome tasting bread, then “hoo-ray” you should say!

bread gif

Aparently you need to click on this picture in order to watch the steps in action. It's lousy but you get the picture, sort of.

Basic Recipe:

1.5 tb salt

1.5 tb yeast

3 cups warm water

6.5 cups flour

Combine the first three ingredients, add in the flour stirring just to combine.  Pop the lid on and let it sit until the dough doubles in size.  You can use the dough right away but I would recommend transferring the container to the refrigerator overnight as it will be much easier to handle the chilled dough, trust me.

Throw some flour into the bucket, grab a grapefruit sized ball of dough and lay it on a cornmeal covered pizza peel.  Let it rest while the oven comes to temp.  Bake and enjoy!

bread black and white

Missing something?  Of course!  Go buy the book to find all the neat details about how to shape the dough, what temperature to bake, cornstarch washing, flour dusting etc.  Or email me and perhaps I could divulge a little more info, just for you.  Because you, are awesome!

plumline

Apricot Jam from Plumline

The apricot jam from Plumline, goes quite well with homemade bread!

FREEcycling

For years we have both been recycling as much as possible as well as selling or donating all of our old clothing and household items.  I have always hated seeing perfectly good objects being thrown out in the trash.  At my last job, I noticed a LOT of things though very old, still very usable to somebody (somewhere) being tossed into the dumpster (some still in the original packaging!!).

This is when I stumbled across a great resource called FREECYCLE.  Straight from their website:

“It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”

Essentially what you do is, log on to Freecycle, post on their forum what it is you have with the word “OFFER” in the title and wait for someone to respond saying they want it.  Likewise, if you are looking for something for yourself, you post what it is you want with “WANTED” in the title.

Through Freecycle I have found lots of good homes for old bikes, stickers, posters, boxes, appliances, shirts, odd trinkets and parts.  I even helped out a local school teaching kids about urban city gardening with my donation of about 40 used 5 gallon oil buckets.