March 31, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

I'm so happy and honored because my MOST favorite bloggers featured my kitchen renovation on her blog!  Mrs-Adventure!

I have been reading her blog for over a year and, feel like I have gotten to know her and have a lot in common with her.  We both love food, dogs, DIY projects, and now blogging! 

Thank you Rachael for featuring my kitchen remodel.  It means the world to me that you shared my kitchen project with the world!  I hope to have some interesting projects coming up this weekend that I can share.  I've just been super busy planning a luncheon for 110 people this week.  Not much time for anything other than that.

Table assignments, flowers, food, speakers and entertainment are my main focus right now.  Hopefully I will have a fun post next week with a project that doesn't involve work (job related I mean).

PRAY that my luncheon goes well and my asiatic lillies survive one more day.  : P

March 25, 2011

Wax Melts My Heart-Candle Making, The Easy Way

I have always loved candles.  I use to spend $25 a pop at those expensive candle stores in the mall. 

I would also buy them as Christmas gifts and end up spending hundreds of dollars.  Little did I know that I could make candles that were even better at home.  By better I mean higher quality ingredients, more fragrant, and less expensive. : )

Everyone knows that soy wax burns slower and gives off less smoke.  Overall it is a healthier alternative to the average candle.

My candle journey began back in October when I decided to give it a shot. I never knew it would progress to where I am now.  I began selling candles where I work, online & my family members began selling hundreds of them for me by word of mouth.

Now, for the tutorial on how YOU can make your own awesome candles in the comfort of your own home; for yourself, as gifts or even to sell!

First, get some wax! 
I order my supplies from Candle Science

They offer: "An all natural soy wax that holds lots of fragrance oil and helps reduce frosting. A favorite of soy candle makers everywhere!"

I also order wicks, containers and scents from them.  They are reliable and VERY fast to ship their orders. 

Once you have the wax, get a large pot, or double boiler.  I bought a cheap pot at the dollar store that I wouldn't ruin if I dripped wax on it, or got it inside.

You will need a container to melt your wax. I have used Mason jars, or any other thick glass container.  If making a large batch of candles, I use a large vase.  Fill the chosen container with wax.  You will have to eyeball it at first and figure out how much wax you need to melt to fill the candle jar of your choice.

Place the jar of wax into the pot of water or double boiler. 
Melt it on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the wax is completely melted.

Once the wax is melted you can add dye chips or the coloring of your choice (food coloring will NOT work, trust me, I tried it).  Or, if prefered you can leave the wax its original color.

I am making a strawberry scented candle so I am using cinnamon red wax chips from Candle Science.  Just drop the dye chips into the melted wax and they will begin to disolve.

I typically use 2 wax chips for a 22oz. candle (the large jar size if purchased at the 'mall' type candle stores.

After the dye chips or coloring is completely melted or blended with the wax you are ready to add the scent of your choice.  I am using the sweet strawberry scent from Candle Science. 

Normally, I just eyeball the amount, but you should use at least 1-1 1/2 ounces to get a good fragrance ( I like my candles to have a strong, room filling scent).  I also recommend letting the fragrance sit in with the hot wax and heating it up to the same temperature so that the consistency is the same.  Stir occasionally to make sure the color and fragrance is well blended.

While the fragrance and colors are blending you can prepare the jars.  I use pre-tabbed wicks.  You can buy them in bulk or 5 in a pack.  With my hot glue gun I put a dab of hot glue on the bottom of the wick setter and center it in the bottom of the jar.

Once the glue is dry and the melted wax has blended completey with the fragrance and the dye, give it a few more stirs.  Now, you are ready to pour the candles.  Make sure your containers are on a surface that is heat resistant and will not melt.  Carefully pour the wax into the jar. (Another tip is to make sure the jars are not cold.  If they are, once the wax is poured into the jar it can pull away from the glass after it has set.  I had this happen with a few back in the winter when I made several at a time and kept the jars lined up in another room that which was cooler).  

Once your wax is poured you will need to center the wicks so they will burn properly.  You can buy devices that hold wicks until the candles are set, but I always use wooden scewers (for grilling) and they turn out beautifully.
Sometimes if the wick is a little crooked I use a piece of tape, but most of the time I just lay the scewer across the candle jar and it will straighten the wick without tape.

Allow the candle to dry completely.  It depends on the size of the candle as to how long it takes to set.  But, you can typically tell by the color the wax becomes as it dries.

( I didn't quite melt enough wax to make two candles, but that just
means I have an extra for my kitchen!) ; )

I normally wait until the next day until I move the candles.  That gives me time to print lables. Then apply the label to the jar.  You can buy clear or white labels at an office supply store or your local Walmart.  I have had great results with either type label.

It's not necssary for personal use but, I also add warning labels to the bottom of all my candles.  Also available from Candle Science and probably a lot of other websites.

After that, the candle is almost complete!  Just turn it back over and trim the wick to approximately 1/4" and add the lid.  Then its ready to enjoy!

They smell delicious and warm up any room.  Good luck making your own candles and not spending so much money!  Not to mention the fun you will have making your own. 

Please "follow" me, I will be doing many more fun and easy projects over the next few weeks!

March 24, 2011

Brown Recluse Spiders are the Devil

I know you have probably heard of the very dangerous Brown Recluse.  But, do you know how dangerous they actually are? Do you know someone who has been bitten or seen the horrible damage they do?

Back in December, a few weeks before Christmas, our furry son-Diesel was bitten by a brown recluse. 

We just thought he was sick.  He seemed tired and didn't want to play, which wasn't like him at all.  Then he just laid on his bed all night.  The next day I was scheduled for a minor dental surgery.  Hubby was to take me to the surgery, then bring me home.  Instead, he ended up getting my dad to help load Diesel into his truck and my mom took me to the dentist.

When they picked Diesel up off his bed, my dad and hubby noticed a tiny spot of blood on the sheet.  They sped to the animal hospital and got him admitted.  Hubby told the vet his symptoms and they checked his chest where the blood seemed to be coming from.  After a brief exam, the vet shaved his chest.  Hubby said "it looked like a deer that had been shot with a shotgun".  It was swollen, and solid black.  The vet knew immediately that it was either a rattlesnake bite or a brown recluse.  The venom does the same type damage.

WARNING:  Disturbing Images Below:

Because Diesel lives in the house with us, and Terminix had been to our house two days before the incident, we feel that they got the spiders stirred up. Our house is 85 years old, and rock (which spiders love).

After nine days in the animal hospital, and me recovering from dental surgery, we got to bring Diesel home. It's amazing that he even survived his spider attack.  He was bitten at least seven times.  Once he was home, he had to wear an E-Collar so that he wouldn't chew at his wounds.  We put the collar on him the first time and he knocked with his foot it off immediately.  After We put it back on and told him to "leave it", he hasn't tried to remove it since.

A month after his spider incident he began to improve.  These are photos from one month post spider bite:

He has continued to wear the collar for the last 3 1/2 months and looks like a dog that belongs in the circus.  He takes his antibiotics like a champ and lets us rub him or soak his wounds with Epson Salt and peroxide.  We also spray him with antibiotic spray.  He has continued to improve but none of us can wait until the day his huge collar comes off.

After all this time, these are photos from today.  Still not completely healed, but better than ever.  We spent over $3,000 in vet bills, but we love him like never before. 

He feel so much better he didn't even want to pose for photos, he only wanted a belly rub.

Please keep him in your prayers.  Even though we have sprayed the house 3x and had the outside treated, we don't know where or how he was bitten by the devil spider.  I am scared for him, and for us because it had to have happened in the house. 

Please watch out for your furry babies and know that no matter how much you love and care for them, freak accidents can and will happen when you least expect it.  This is a warning for everyone who has pets.

For a GREAT Giveaway, check out Mrs-Adventure!

March 22, 2011

Operation Kitchen Remodel-Complete! The Before's and After's

After much too much work our kitchen is finally complete!  All of my stuff is in it's new place, and out of the floor.  I can also make coffee on the counter instead of in the dining room on an end table. : )

I wish I had taken more "before's" so you what bad shape our top cabinets were.  The backs were literally hanging off the wall so badly that I was afraid if I put ONE more can in them they would fall.  One day those death traps were going to land on me or be in the floor when I came home from work.

SO..without further ado, here are the pictures of our new kitchen!  We celebrated by eating catfish (that we caught ourselves!) and coleslaw.  One of our favorite meals.  

BEFORE: Under Sink

AFTER: Under Sink

BEFORE:  Beside Dishwasher

AFTER:  New Cabinet Beside Dishwasher

BEFORE:  Cabinet beside stove I had to crawl back in with a flashlight

AFTER:  I love my SUSAN!

BEFORE: Ugly white board we wrote notes on

AFTER:  Pretty print I bought at Dollar General for $6!

BEFORE:  Terrible Kitchen!

AFTER: Finished Product!

Some extras, just 'cause I'm proud:
Love my corner with added counter space

New Burner Pans and some spring flowers spruce the place up.

Large corner cabinet gives lots of extra room, and
has rope lighting on top.

Finally, we used a deer foot gun rack as a coat rack, just
'cause we had it. Maybe weird for some people, but fits us
'cause we're just like that.  : )

This weekend we completely finished the kitchen.  We were able to install the knobs and drawer pulls as well as put down the baseboards.  My awesome dad also came over and installed LED lights underneath the cabinets which made a WORLD of difference!  It looks incredible and I am wanting to cook constantly!  That, and make sure that hubby doesn't leave any dirty dishes lying around and puts his Splenda wrappers in the trash.  ; )

New lighting brightened the place up!

Stained my spice rack to match the cabinets.

Put my dachshund towel holder back on the wall.

Thanks for sticking with me throughout the renovation.  Now I want to start working on some other rooms in the house.  Wish me luck!


March 21, 2011

Operation Kitchen Remodel-Stage 3 & 4, maybe 5

I hope everyone had a nice relaxing weekend .  For us it was another-work until you can't stand up weekend. 

Our new cabinets were installed.  Without the help of hubby's grandparents we would not have gotten this project completed.  At least not this year....

I worked with Daniel's grandfather to hang all the top cabinets.  Being that our walls are poured concrete we had to attach finished board to the wall with a ram-set(sp) or ram gun.  I have no idea if I'm spelling that correctly but, it was one of the neatest tools I've ever seen.  Being a lover of guns and tools (strange girl, huh) this thing was too cool!  You basically put the nail in the end of the barrel and it is loaded with a strip of bullets full of powder, put the barrel against the wall and it SHOOTS the nail into the concrete.  It was made by Remington, so I should have known how cool it was going to be.  Most of our tools say DeWalt.  Not only was it extremely loud, but also effective.  Loved it! 

Corner Cabinet going in, definitely added cabinet space.

Daniel's Grandfather putting in last top cabinet

Bottom cabinets going in and stove back in place, starting to install new counter tops.

All Counter tops installed and cabinets stained, dishwasher back in place. 
(Can anyone tell me why it rotates my pics when I upload them?)

After all that was complete I waited for the stain to dry.  We decided since it was already so dark from the Poly Shades that we would just put a coat of clear polyurethane instead of a second coat of the Poly Shades.  After it was all said and done they turned out beautiful. 

I began moving stuff back into the cabinets last night and will have it all moved back in by this evening.  I hope to end Operation Kitchen Remodel with tomorrows post and put up some before and after pictures with the horrible shape our previous cabinets were in.

I can't wait to cook our first meal in my completed kitchen.   I'm sure hubby will be happy to eat something that is cooked instead of microwaved or came from a frozen bag. : )

 For some other great projects check out Between Naps on the Porch!

March 18, 2011

Happy Friday!

This weekend I hope to wrap up the staining of the kitchen cabinets.  Also, my dad may be coming over to do some electrical work.  Because our walls are 100% poured concrete, the outlets have to be hung on the outside of the walls. 

I can't wait to get the wiring finished so I can get the TV back in the kitchen.  How I miss watching reruns of Reba and Tivo'd episodes Rachael Ray while cooking supper.

We also have some other fun things going on this weekend I can't wait to blog about on Monday!

Stay tuned.  For now I leave you with a picture of our four-legged daughters, Reese and Cami.

Reese is in the back, all chocolate and tan like a Reese Cup.
Cami is in the front, was going to be named Camo for her color
but, turned out to be a girl so, Cam-i seemed more fitting.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and gets to enjoy the spring-like weather we are having.  : )  

March 17, 2011

Operation Kitchen Remodel-Stage 2

Staining is fun! I got to work on staining our new cabinets on Saturday night with my hubby-down in our basement because it was raining outside. 

We were having a great time, staining the cabinets and talking about everything because we haven't gotten to spend a lot of time together lately.   Around 2am we decided to call it quits and hit the hay.

Hubby staining his upper cabinet

Me staining the inside of an upper cabinet
The next morning I was super-excited about going to how the cabinets turned out, semi-dried and finish staining the ones we hadn't gotten to yet.  Boy was I surprised when your cabinets were SO dark.  Places on them looked almost black!  The stain seemed to turn darker as it dried.  And this was just ONE coat.  We were supposed to be using two coats. 

Needless to say I began sanding away to try and remove some of the stain and lighten the cabinets up. We have also rubbed a small amount of Mineral Spirits on them to take the color off, which sort of worked in a few spots, but we still have dark spots and I haven't won't have time to work on them anymore until the weekend.

I think I'm going to go with my new friend and DIY genious Rachael's advice from Mrs-Adventure and try Citrastrip to remove the rest of the stain. I'm so looking forward to tomorrow night  so i can get back at it.

I hate doing our taxes : ( !

March 16, 2011

Operation Kitchen Remodel-Stage 1 Demolition

 I don't even think exhausted is the word to use to describe how I feel today.  So glad I got to come back to work to rest!

Whoever told me that we could get our kitchen done in 3 days is dead WRONG!  Not unless you work 20 hours a day, don't take breaks for food or to go to the bathroom (sorry bladder) and get incredibly moody (sorry honey ; ) ).

Thought i would post some pictures of the DEMOLITION....although I didn't get to help with this part, I was too busy staining the new cabinets.  But hubby had fun and getting rid of our horrible cabinets.

After they were gone, our kitchen looked like this!

Hubby fixing Icemaker line I pulled out, whoops! Glad he's a plumber.

Don't know WHY I can't rotate this picture, can anyone help me?  Its correct on my files!
Left side of kitchen.  Nice, huh?  Especially that black mold in the corner. 
Guess thats what we get for living in a 85 year old rock house.

All the stuff that was in my cabinets. 

That does not includ the stacks in our dining room that include crock pots, more Rachael Ray cookware, roasting pans, standing mixer, food processor, etc. I have no idea how i had all that stuff in those cabinets. 

Time for a trip to Goodwill to shed some pounds of tupperware and dinnerware we don't use (and I forgot we had).

Stay tuned (if anyone is actually reading this), many more pictures of our blood, sweat and tears...literally.