Friday, May 23, 2014

How To Upcycle Old Candles

Don't throw away your old, used candles with leftover wax! Melt them down to make new ones in just a few easy steps!

I'm addicted to candles! I love when my home smells good and I love the warm and homey feel that burning candles brings into it. So when my lovely candles burn down to where they no longer light, I shed a little tear or two. Especially when there is still a layer of waxy goodness at the bottom of the jar. Do you hate to let that go to waste as much as I do? Well wipe away those tears my friends! I'm here to share with you a quick DIY to upcycle those old candles into new ones!
I began by collecting a few old candle jars.

Okay, so it was more than a few.

I just didn't have the heart to throw them away! You know we're all about frugal here.

Let's get down to business......

What you'll need:

Old Candles 
Pot or Double Broiler
New wicks and tabs (Less than $3 for 6 at craft stores, but don't forget to use a 40% off coupon!)
Pencil or Popsicle stick (to hold up the wick)
Oven mitt

How to do it:

1.) Bring water to boil in a medium to large pot or double broiler (Use the ugliest pot you can find. It's what all the cool people do.)
2.) Place candle jar in pot of boiling water. Leave in boiling water until all wax is melted.

3.) Place your new wick in the center of the clean container or jar you will be using. I like to place a small amount of wax at the bottom of the jar before placing my wick tab in. This helps to hold the wick in place (you can also use a glue stick to glob some glue on the bottom).

4.) Pour melted wax into jar. 

This is the final layer of my first jar. I chose to melt the candles separately but I could have melted them all at the same time when using the same scent.  To do that I would've just cut the wax out of each jar (using the method described below) and added them all to one jar to melt.

There are several methods for melting down old candles. I also tried melting my wax in the microwave and got similar results. To do this, cut into your candle with a knife (it should cut very easily) and remove the wax from the jar. Discard the used wick base (tab). 

Continue cutting until your candle wax is broken into pieces.

Place cut up pieces of wax in a microwave safe container. 

Microwave on 50-60% power in 1 minute intervals. This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes if your microwave is a dinosaur like mine. Lightly stir after each interval until your wax is completely melted.

When using different scents, make a layered candle with similar colors and scents. For this candle I grouped together fall and "baking" scents and poured them into my candle in layers. Tip: Notice the little black soot at the bottom of the wax? This is heavier than the wax and sinks to the bottom, making it easy to avoid pouring out or you can easily scoop it out with a spoon before pouring into new jar.

Let each layer cool until hardened (at least 15 minutes) before adding the next layer to prevent the colors and scents from mixing.

Voila! Now you have a beautiful layered candle with some of your favorite scents!
Bonus! Your house will smell SO good when making these!

Additional Tips: 

I bought my initial container at the Dollar Store and then once I had an empty candle jar, I washed that one out and used it for the next candle. That way I was only out a dollar for the first container and for all the others, I was using the previous jar.

To wash out old candle jars. Add a small amount of dish soap and fill jar with boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes and then carefully pour out water. In most cases the jars will now wipe clean with a paper towel. If wax is especially stubborn, a little more dish soap, water and elbow grease should do the trick!

You could really get creative with containers! Mason jars look great and tea cups would look really cute! I have even seen halved fruit peels filled with melted wax. I hear they burn even more fragrantly. 

There you have it! How to melt down your old candles to make new ones! You'll be so proud of yourself for stretching a dollar and your house will smell amazing! It's a win win!

Thanks for stopping by! Do you save your old candles? Have you ever melted them down before? We'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (Easy, no bake recipe)

Welcome back to Tip Tuesday! Today's tip is a fun, easy, time saver for parties, birthdays and any special occasion warranting a special dessert (such as Tuesday for instance).

I love ice cream. I love cake. Ice Cream Cake? Even better! Your family is going to love this yummy ice cream cake and you are going to love that you can throw it together in 10 minutes flat with no baking whatsoever!

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake


12 Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 tub of Whipped Cream
Magic Shell Chocolate
Chocolate or Caramel Topping

Oreo Cookies (crumbled)
Diced Candy Bars (Snickers, Skor, Twix, Reese's, M&M's, etc.) For this cake I used a Snickers bar and crushed Skor bits. Yum!


Begin by layering 3 unwrapped ice cream sandwiches on your plate or platter.

Next, alternate 3 more ice cream sandwiches going the opposite direction.

In between each layer, spread a thin layer of Magic Shell across the top of the ice cream sandwiches. This will become your "glue" to hold the layers together.

Continue stacking until you have reached your desired height. I chose to have four layers on this cake.

Spread whipped cream around all four sides. You don't have to be too neat about this. See...... easy!

Drizzle with chocolate (or caramel) topping, letting the topping run down the sides. Sprinkle with crumbled toppings.

Before serving, place cake in freezer for approximately 20-30 minutes to stiffen the cream up before cutting into it. You may notice my ingredients sat out a little long and are puddling at the base of the cake, but it didn't stop anyone from digging in!

Then sit back and watch the amazement in their eyes when they see you made them an ice cream cake!!! Maybe that mom of the year award might not be so elusive this year! You can serve this for the awards ceremony.

So there you have it! If you're looking for an easy, ice cream cake that will win you rave reviews, this is your gold mine!

Try it out and let us know what you think! What's your favorite quick, no fail dessert?

Friday, May 9, 2014

How to Build a Coffee Table in a Matter of Seconds

The coffee table in my living room is often a topic of conversation for people who come to my home for the first time.  With it's original, aged wood appearance, and it's two-tiered design, it is not like anything most people are used to seeing.  This unique table is one of my favorite pieces in my home for the simple reason that it literally cost me nothing, and even better; took me less than a minute to assemble. With how simple it was to create, I almost feel sheepish accepting compliments on it. Let me show you just how easy it was!

All you will need is two wooden crates. I have seen wood boxes like this priced very reasonably at thrift and antique stores many times. I got lucky a few years back, when on a camping trip, hiking deep within the woods, I stumbled upon a wrecked and long abandoned camping trailer. The license plates years past expiration, the walls all but completely deteriorated, and most of the contents missing or weathered beyond use, it had obviously been long forgotten. Me, being the curious person I am, I decided to take a look around, which ended up being such a great idea! I found so many wonderful and interesting artifacts, many of which I display in my home to this day.  Having been deserted so long, most items were incredibly weathered and rusted, which gave them a very interesting and unique appearance. Two such items were the wooden crates pictured above. I excitedly made my way back to camp with my unexpected loot.
I wasn't entirely sure what I would do with it all, but after getting it home (and giving it all a good scrubbing down), I had the boxes sitting in my living room, and I kept thinking to myself how well they belonged in the room; how nicely they fit in with my decor. Then, suddenly it dawned on me! I had been needing a coffee table for some time, but hadn't been able to find one that I liked that also fit my price range, and my tiny living room. Light bulb! I loved the boxes so much, I decided to turn them into a coffee table, which made the perfect addition to my otherwise lacking front room.

I simply turned the long thin box up-side-down to create the table surface, and turned the smaller box on its side to create the base. I would like to tell you it took more skill on my part, but it really was as effortless as that! I loved the way that it came together; I love the texture of the wood, and the way that it blends so well with the many natural elements in my living room, and how the age of the wood somehow made it look both antique and modern.
To make it easier to transport (I was about a month away from moving into another home), and to keep future changes in design as an option, I chose not to attach the boxes together. Had I decided to  make it a more permanent piece, seconds with a hammer and a few nails would have done the trick!

Having the base of the table be made from an enclosed box brought another interesting design element to the table (no pun intended...okay...maybe a little intended); it created a built-in shelf. I love the versatility that lends to the table. At times I like to leave it open, or occasionally I will create simple vignettes on the bottom shelf to utilize the space and to add some variety to my living room decor.  

Voila! By thinking inside the box, I managed to think outside of the box. With only two materials, and practically no skill required, I was inspired to create a coffee table that I hope in turn inspires you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tip Tuesday

Welcome back to Tip Tuesday, where we share our favorite tips with you! This week's tip was completely inspired by the never-too-early glimpses of warmer weather we've been getting lately. Every year when spring has finally sprung, I get a jolt of motivation, and spring into home improvement mode. This beautiful phase full of sunshise and comet usually lasts only until the hot summer sun comes and dries up all my motivation. Like too many wonderful things, it's gone too soon. So I have to take advantage of what little time I have. We're talking serious cleaning and reorganizing, yard face lifts, attempting to plant things that grow, getting out of bed on Sundays-the whole shabang!
The biggest roadblock I've encountered in attaining that perfect(ish) home I'm always striving towards is, and always has been: yardwork! I loathe it! My thumb, like my grass, is definitely not green, and I hate digging around in the dirt. So when I suddenly felt inspired plant things, (even to spruce up the front yard a bit), I quickly got to work, excited about this new challenge.
So in celebration of my temporary insanity, I present to you this week's tip: 

Turn it into a flowerpot!
I wanted to bring some life to my front porch and the inside of my home. I have always been in love with succulents, even more so recently, and heard they were easy to take care of; a major plus. Since I can never seem to be satisfied with the conventional, I didn't want to plant them in just ordinary flower pots. So I set out shopping in my own home, thrift stores, and at my go-to discount stores to find cute little containers to plant my plants in. I found so many fun alternatives to flower pots, I had to restrain myself from buying more (after already going way over my budget on just the plants). These were some of my favorite finds:

Not too bad! Give or take a few cents on the bowl from Gordman's. By the way, if you join their mailing list, they regularly send out 20% off coupons. The small plate under the bowl I got at Thai Pan (who also sends out amazing coupons if you sign up) on clearance for $.99. The Candy Dish (originally from a thrift store) was a milky white, but a quick coat of white spray paint on the outside (not the inside! Plants don't care for spray paint!) gave it that nice solid white color. The plant stand, amazingly, was a thrift store find I scored for a whopping $2. The price tag was what made the hour of intense cleanup I had to do to make it usable well worth the effort! 
All of the succulents were from Home Depot, who has an incredible selection and great prices. The only thing to look out for when omitting flower pots is overwatering- since there is no drainage, take extra care to not water more than needed. Pst! If you are like me, and have a knack for killing plants, artificial is honestly a great way to go with succulents. Since they naturally have a somewhat of an artificial look, it makes it much easier to cheat. We won't tell!

Thanks for stopping by! We hope we've helped you to think outside the flowerpot. Join us weekly for Tip Tuesdays, as we pass our favorite tips on to you!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

How To Hang A Gallery Wall For Next To Nothing

One trend that we've been seeing a lot of lately is the gallery wall.  Reason being, simply stated, because they are FABULOUS. They fit in any space, any design aesthetic, and it wouldn't be us if we didn't mention; any budget. A wonderful way to fill a large wall without having to purchase large pieces of art, gallery walls are the perfect way to update any room and the options are endless! 
See?! This is why we can't get enough of them! Fabulous examples from Top left: Architectural Digest, top right: Southern Living, bottom left: Liz Marie Blog, and bottom right: Emily A. Clark
Another wonderful advantage to this trend is the fact that you can change, and improve them gradually; replacing old pieces with new, updating outdated photographs, and even expanding and adding on with time, and as budget allows. And they are PERFECT for indecisive people (such as myself). Can't settle on one piece for that main living room wall? No problem-try ten!
With so many pieces working together to create one final product though, it can be a little intimidating knowing where to begin. Achieving balance can be a challenge, so mapping them out properly is crucial. To make the task a little less daunting, we've put together an easy 3-step guide to implementing this stylish trend in your home. 

The first step is to determine the space you have to work with. You'll want to figure out the size of the wall(s) you will be working on, if you want things to be spaced out or clustered together, and approximately how many items you will need to fill that space. For me, I knew I wanted something to fill the relatively small wall behind my kitchen table. So, got the long roll of paper that my wonderful grandfather made for me as a kid and rolled out three very long sheets to fit the size of the wall I was wanting to fill (multiple pieces of computer paper or even posterboard would also work), and just scotch taped them together. This would give me a general guideline for scale while laying out my wall.  
If you lack inspiration on how to properly utilize the space on your wall, have no fear! There are plenty of awesome guidelines online, like these ones from Hubpages (left), and The Sun Shines Blue (right).

Then you'll need to gather pieces you would like to feature in your gallery wall. This can be the fun part, but finding an assortment of individual pieces can be incredibly challenging if you are looking to keep things affordable. When you are using multiple pieces on one wall, things tend to add up fast! I knew I wanted to do a collage on my wall, however, I also knew that I did not have the budget to do so. I decided not to let that stop me (I've never been good at being told no anyways!); I would just have to do what I do best-fake it 'till I make it! So I hit my favorite thrift store; one nearby that does all you can fit in a cart for $10 one day a week! It can get pretty packed on these "cart sale" days, so things get picked over fairly fast (not to mention a little competitive and sometimes downright scary!), so I didn't have cream of the crop choices but I was on a mission! One thing they did have a surplus of were aged wood frames. These would do just fine! My kitchen is by far the "girliest" room in my house (floral table cloth, frilly antiques, flowers on the windowsill-the whole nine yards!), so the aged wood would flow with the vintage feel, and the brown color of the frames introduced a nice neutral in my otherwise brightly decorated room, and allowed for me to fill the frames with bright pieces without the whole thing becoming overwhelming. Amazingly, I was able to pick up all of the frames I needed for my wall in one trip (along with a cart packed full of other great finds), and spent next to nothing.

Once I had all of my frames together, I laid them on the floor on top of my guide for the wall, moving them around until I found an arrangement that was balanced in both the finish on the wood, and the size and shape of the frames. When I was happy with the composition, I took a marker and carefully outlined each frame where it laid on the paper.
You will not want to hang each piece one at a time. The pounding of the nails for the next frames you hang can cause the pieces to fall off of the wall (I may or may not have found this out the hard way). So since I needed all of the nails to go into the wall before I actually started hanging the frames, I then drew a tiny dot in each shape that directly lined up with where the nail would need to be in order for the frame to hang in its outline. 
Then, I taped it flush to the wall in the exact position I wanted my collage to hang.  

I hammered nails exactly into the dots in each shape (through the paper), and in a matter of minutes I had all of the nails hung. Then I just ripped the sheet of paper down, leaving the nails in place and the wall ready to start coming together.
Since I had the same budget for filling the frames as I did acquiring them, I kept my eye out at the cart sale for things I could use. I found the clock in the center (which was a little obnoxious at first but as you'll learn there is NOTHING that spray paint can't fix!), along with the dried flowers in the small barnwood frame to the center right, and a children's book with illustrations of woodland creatures and flowers that I was able to cut pictures out of. The rest of the things I found by shopping my house. Fabric scraps make wonderful fillers for picture frames, or backing for pictures. Most frames contain a cardboard insert cut to the exact size of the frame, which fabric can be fit to, or that can be painted and either used alone, or as the backing for a smaller picture, eliminating expensive matting costs. Also, there is an abundance of free graphics online that are absolutely wonderful, and with resources like pinterest, even easier to find than ever! Even if you don't have a printer (like me!), they can be printed very affordably in a number of sizes at any local store with a photo department. 

Eventually I would love to be able to transition my gallery wall into being a little more polished and modern, like some of the above examples. I plan on adding and updating pictures and frames with time, and as I can afford to. For the time being though, I was able to get one assembled for almost no money out of my pocket, which was the only way I would be able to make it work. And as I mentioned before, one of the biggest perks is that they can be updated gradually, growing and ever-evolving, like our homes and lives should always be.