Citronella Candle Buckets

I ~LOVE~ SUMMER… Especially balmy Summer nights! What’s even better is sitting out on the patio, as the heat cools down to a pleasant no-jacket-necessary temperature. The only exception would be those annoying mosquitos that disrupt your much needed chill time! So to combat those pesky little things, I made some citronella candles out of fabric-covered metal buckets.

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Here’s What You Need:

    * Candle Wax – I used about 2 1/2 pounds of wax. ^
    * 9″ Candle Wicks (Got these from Michael’s)
    * 3 Silver Buckets with handle, 4 1/2″ diam. x 5″ ^
    * Fabric (enough to cover three buckets. I had a yard of some fabric I wanted to use.)
    * Fabric scissors & regular scissors
    * Mod Podge – Matte Acrylic Sealer ^
    * Brush for the Mod Podge sealer ^
    * Wet Paper Towel for cleanup
    * Wooden Chopsticks (for stirring)
    * Double Boiler (I used a 4-cup GLASS measuring cup and a big pot. Try to find the biggest measuring GLASS cup as possible. The bigger the cup, the more you can melt at one time.)
    * Citronella Essential Oil (*Optional: Eucalyptus Essential Oil)
    * 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon
    * 3 cloth pins
    * Newspaper (to cover your work surface)
    * Knife or Cleaver

    ^ I received these products from Oriental Trading Company for this review.  All opinions are my own.

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    Here’s how:

      1. Tightly wrap fabric around the bucket generously to cover the surface. (You don’t need to cover the bottom.) Overlap the sides about 2″ and cut. Also cut around the top and bottom, leaving enough slack, about 1/2″ all around.
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      2. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge with a brush all around the bucket, paying close attention to the edges.
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      3. Wrap the fabric around the bucket, starting with one edge. Press down the fabric well to stick to the glue. Apply more Mod Podge as needed. You can brush more on top or under the fabric. Peel off if the fabric gets wrinkled and re-wrap tightly. Let the bucket dry for about 15 minutes.

      4. When fabric is dry, cut around the top and bottom edges as neatly as possible with fabric scissors. (Tip: Clean the scissors well after usage with a damp paper towel, making sure that there is no Mod Podge residue left.)
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      5. Apply another layer of Mod Podge on the outside of the fabric, creating a “seal” around the fabric. Let it dry for another 15 minutes and apply a 2nd coat. Set aside to dry. (Don’t worry if they look chalky now. They dry clear.)
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      6. Next, prepare the double boiler/water bath by placing a glass measuring cup in the middle of the pot and pouring water on the outside of it. Let the water come up about 3/4 way. Martha Stewart has a great video on how she does this. Click HERE for the video tutorial.

      7. Cut about 2 1/2 pounds of wax into small pieces with a cleaver or a strong knife. (This took some time to complete.)
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      8. Melt the pieces of wax in the double boiler until liquified.

      9. Dip a candle wick into the hot melted wax and affix it at the bottom of each bucket, placing it in the center. Use a cloth pin and the bucket handle to hold and stabilize the wick. Straighten and center the wick as much as possible for even burning.

      10. Drop in the Citronella oil (or a combination of Citronella and Eucalyptus) into the melted wax and stir with a wooden stick to mix. (Tip: Use 1/2 tsp per 1 pound of wax.)

      11. Pour the rest of the wax into the buckets. Let it solidify. You will need to melt more wax at this point. Repeat steps 8 & 10 until you have filled all three buckets about 1″ from the top.
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      12. When the wax solidifies, cut the wicks to 1/2″ high. Hang these buckets during the day to create a cheerful environment in your outdoor space and at night, light them up for that added summer romance in the air!
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      Feel free to leave a comment or click on the heart if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Pasta Necklace

Here’s an imaginative kids’ craft you can do with your little ones: Making pasta necklaces!
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This creative project will be one of the crafts booths at a children’s carnival this Saturday. (My sister’s library is hosting a carnival to celebrate their kids’ Summer reading program.) Who knew that you can create beads out of pasta by dyeing them in pretty colors?!

Here’s what you need:
* Rubbing alcohol
* Food coloring (as many colors as you want)
* Fun-shaped dry pasta (that have holes you can put a string through. Do not cook the pasta!)
* Bowls
* Apron (to protect your clothing)
* Newspaper (to line the work surface)
* Plates or trays (lined with plastic wrap on the bottom, then a layer of paper towels on top) to dry the pasta
* Scissors
* String (fish lines or hemp cord, etc.)
* Slotted spoon (or a regular spoon, to scoop out the pasta from bowl)
* (OPTIONAL) Colorful straws and plastic beads

Directions:
(Make the pasta beads ahead of time. Pasta will need to dry overnight.)

1. Prepare a bath of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Fill a bowl 3/4 with rubbing alcohol. Add drops of food coloring of your choice. You can eyeball how much food color to put in, keeping in mind that the dried pasta will be a little lighter than the alcohol bath. We got some fantastic Neon colors for this project too! NEON food coloring?? SO cool!! Stir the liquid until well-mixed.
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2. Gently drop in the pasta into the bowl. Stir them around to submerge them in the liquid. Soak until your desired color sets in. Periodically lift out the pasta with a spoon to check on the color. For reddish colors, it took about 30 minutes to dye. For the neon green, about 2 hours. But do not leave the pasta soaking overnight or longer than 3 hours, since that will make the pasta chalky when it dries.
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3. Scoop out the pasta, draining as much liquid as you can. Lay them out flat on a platter lined with paper towels (to soak in the extra liquid) and dry overnight. Line the bottom of the tray/plate if you want to protect it. They should be completely dry in the morning. Here’s a sampling of the different colors we used:
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4. (OPTIONAL) You can also make “beads” out of colorful plastic straws. Cut them into long and short pieces. Set them aside. You can also add plastic beads to the necklace.
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5. Measure how long you want the necklace to be, but cut the string a little longer, so that you have some slack. String your beads in any pattern you want and tie the ends tightly with a triple knot when done. Cut the extra ends but not too close to the knot. Be creative and experimental! 🙂 The pastas we used are Fiori (flower-shaped), tennis racket and Ziti (long tubes). You can search on Google Images for “fun-shaped pastas” for some ideas.
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Hope this becomes a delightful afternoon of art project with your kids!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment or click on the heart. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Water Bottle Centerpieces

Looking for a centerpiece idea that’s easy on the wallet and also eco-friendly? Check out these centerpieces made out of small and big recycled water bottles!
Water Bottle Centerpiece 1

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Mark+Rachel-133 Gary Chiang Photography

Mark+Rachel-173 Gary Chiang Photography

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Mark+Rachel-138 Gary Chiang Photography

With less than one month before my friends’ outdoor Hawaiian wedding (you can read more about it here), I had to come up with centerpieces for 10+ tables. I knew that I wanted to incorporate the theme of water, sand and fire, so I needed something that would hold one of these three elements. But what do I use and how? Well, my first step in brainstorming: Google search! (As much as I hate the fact that Google knows so much about everyone, I do love Google…) So I began searching for wedding images and the internet is brimming with them! Of course, with unlimited funds, the sky’s the limit in terms of creating incredible-looking centerpieces. But I needed to find a budget-savvy solution… One night, brainstorming around my backyard, I looked over at the pile of hopefully-soon-to-be-recycled but-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-recycling-center water bottles that have been amassing for months. Then came the idea, ‘Ok, why not make something out of these plastic bottles since I have plenty of them?! If I mess up, I have more!’ At first, I was going to cut them at different heights and use them as vases (as inspired by this image.)
Water Bottle Vases
(Source: http://inhabitat.com/fullfill-vases/fullfill/)

I thought the ridges on the bottle were cool and not so cheap-looking when you get rid of the labels. You know, anything simple that’s repeated looks good. But vases are so predictable at a wedding, no? How about another way of using the bottles? Then after a dinner conversation with my friend (thanks for the inspiration, Dora!) I locked in on the idea of cutting the 1-Gallon bottles sideways and filling them with sand to make them into mini sand boxes. These sideways bottles were perfect for transporting the wedding guests to the beach, even only for a moment, with sand and Cricut cut-outs of beach-themed images. Here’s a mock-up I made during a dry run:
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While the sand boxes adorned the family tables up in front, I made vases for the rest of the eight tables that were filled with water, real Lei flowers, sand and LED candles. Each centerpiece had a table name that were cut out with Cricut, with names like “Aloha”, “Maui Me”, “Family”, “Friends”, etc. The Cricut cut-outs were propped up by popsicle sticks, and stuck into the sand (mixed with some water to make it sturdy.) Here’s how I assembled them:

1. Cut out two identical layers of table names using Cricut. I used my Cricut Studio to make custom words and welded them together with images. Fonts and images are from the Life is a Beach cartridge. Place two popsicle sticks two-inches apart from end to end (because that’s how wide the small water bottle was) and glue them in between the layers. Use a strong glue (I used a tacky glue) so that the paper don’t come apart.
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2. Remove the label from a 1-Gallon plastic water bottle (I got mine from Costco) and cut it to about 6″ high. I made an incision with an exacto knife first then cut around the bottle with scissors. It was easier than I thought. With a lighter, burn away any rough edges. Cut a smaller (individual size) plastic water bottle, about 5″ high the same way. Glue the bottom of the smaller bottle onto the middle of the big bottle with hot glue, so that it doesn’t move around in the water. Fill the smaller bottle with sand, about 4″ high. Fill the big bottle with water, also about 4″ high. (These height measurements are relative. Cut and fill them as high or low as you need them.) Insert the popsicle sticks into the sand and place a battery-operated LED candle in the middle. You can float flowers around the small bottle. Here I have some plastic flowers from Oriental Trading Company. But we floated real Lei flowers on the wedding day. I also threw in some river rocks into the water to anchor the bottle.
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3. Here’s the finished product. You can further decorate the vase with a ribbon around it.
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With a little bit of imagination, you can recycle your water bottles into fun centerpiece creations! Please feel free to leave me a comment or click on the heart if you like this post!