Sunday, March 30, 2008

Winter's Last Hurrah

It was the last weekend in March. The Easter snow was nearly melted, the sun was feeling just a little warm. After a morning of doing chores and running errands, Husby and I went out for a seafood lunch, then headed to the video store for a couple of movies to enjoy by the last fire of the winter season.

This is what my fireplace looks like when I'm not wearing my glasses.

Little did we know on Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. the snow would come again, falling from the sky in the form of heavy, wet snowballs for a full twenty-four hours. Of course I had the car washed the day before.

In addition to the frustrations I feel over the weather, my patience is being tried by a small custom order of votive candles. They just aren't cooperating and I'm on a serious deadline.

Good thing about candles - if they don't turn out just so I can melt them and start all over with new hopes for the perfect outcome. I wish Mother Nature would follow my lead and melt these eight inches of snow with hopes for the perfect outcome of Spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sugar Blobs

I wonder, now that Easter has passed does it mean Spring is here? We're in for some more snow later this week. Oh yeah, I forgot, Easter was very early this year.

It was a good Easter despite the small number we had in celebration at our family gathering. I'm sorry to report I didn't attempt the homemade marshmallow candies; I think it would have made for a fun project. Perhaps Christmastime will bring cause to make some chocolate-dipped homemade marshmallow treats. I've made marshmallows from scratch once before, and they're suprisingly easy to make. Try it some time. I use Martha Stewart's recipe. The "Peeps" recipe can also be found on Martha Stewart's website. I think what deterred me was the fact that there was piping involved. I anticipated being disappointed in the certain blobs I would create.

But being a crafter or artist, what are attempts without the blobs? How many errors occur before we get it just right? Where's the fun in creating something perfectly the first time? If I had made the marshmallow piping attempt late last week I'd be chewing on leftovers of those sugary little blobs right now. Dang!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Bunny Man Cometh

This little beeswax candle is one of my favorites. It's especially nice this time of year with Easter and Spring at our doorsteps. It just so happens it's available at my etsy shop. Don't be shy if you see only one is available. If you want more you can contact me either through an Etsy conversation, comment on this blog, or standard e-mail.

In other Easter news, I'm mulling over the possibility of making my very own marshmallow candies. You know, those chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs or, dare I say, Peeps. If I get up enough gumption to make the attempt, I'll try to compose a photo chronical of the adventure. I'm sure it would prove to be very amusing.

Charlotte and her boy will be returning from Germany on Easter Sunday. We're all eager to hear about their travels. I believed most certainly they would encounter ghosts in the many ancient castles they toured, but they were skeptical. We shall see.

I'm also on a bend where I listen to old radio shows while I work on my crafts. I mostly like the suspense/mystery/horror stories. Most recently I listened to a trio of stories from the series Murder At Midnight. The thrills are quite tame, but I remain rivited and they make the time fly by.

That brings us to the conclusion of today's installment of Auntie B's Wax. This is your host, Auntie B, signing off. So long. *dramatic organ music plays loudly, then fades to silence*

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Long Weekend, Part 3

March 17 brought a blizzard to Minnesota. Okay, it wasn't really a blizzard; I refer to any snow as a blizzard. Anyway, it was snowing cats and dogs yesterday, the 17th of March. Snowing. A lot. Well, in the spirit of my rediscovered nesting practices I decided to prepare a dinner of the ultimate comfort food - meatloaf. It turned out to be a lovely evening with the snow falling, the smell of home cooking filling the house...a wonderful conclusion to a long weekend, a mini vacation from the usual day-to-day.

So ends my long weekend. I'm back to work with a certain heaviness, but also with a refreshed feeling. The 3-4" of snow that fell last night is quickly melting, the streets are wet, the air is damp. My boss at work was relieved to see me today, as things were starting to pile up on my desk. Returning to the routine. *sigh* In a way it's good to be back. In a bigger way I'm grateful for the time I spent outside of the routine. Gotta get wild once in a while and roast a turkey in March. Speed up, slow down, just be different from the routine. And when the routine becomes a drudgery again, take another detour.

I just love those spontaneous, long weekends.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Long Weekend, Part 2

Martha Stewart saves the day!

I have a pretty good-sized pile of Martha magazines stashed away, and I decided it would be a good thing if I went through the magazines, cut out what I like, and throw the rest to the recyclers. As I was paging through it dawned on me that my life has become uncomfortably unbalanced. I read about cooking, baking, cleaning, and decorating. I realized the homemaking part of my life has fallen by the wayside, and that I miss it terribly.

Growing a cottage industry is very important to me, but not at the expense of all other aspects of my life. I also realized that the more I neglect other parts of my life, the more my work in the studio suffers.

Today I tackled some homemaking tasks and have decided to revisit my homemaking daily. I washed windows and did some other pre-Spring-Cleaning chores. To top it all off I'm roasting a turkey as I write this!

Nesting and homemaking have always been a big part of me. Lately I've neglected it. Thanks to Martha I've been reminded of how rewarding and mentally liberating homemaking tasks can be.
Business production wasn't at the top of my list today, but in honor of the turkey in the oven I've listed a Sweet Pumpkin Pie scented candle to my Etsy shop. I feel more empowered than ever, realizing a balanced life is the key to success in every area of it.

Thanks for the gentle reminder, Martha!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Long Weekend, Part 1

Every year at this time I get snarky. March 17 marks the anniversary of the commencement of my day job. I get blue, thinking I should have progressed further in a career, thinking I could have pursued other paths, knowing what I know about civil service and the people we serve... So every year I take at least the anniversary day off as a time to reflect and reevaluate. I've spent many years in the agency at which I serve the public, and the people I work with have come to accept my agitation during March, and have come to expect I will take my leave for at least one day during the month.

This year I decided to take a long weekend instead of one day - Friday through Monday. I'm feeling refreshed already, as I started my mini vacation today. Of course I have high hopes of what I will accomplish these four days, and of course I know I won't accomplish all of those goals. But to have the wiggle room to know, I have enough time to do this task right now, more room than the small window of time I usually have between coming home from work and going to bed, is so liberating.

Today flew by, but I've grown quite tired by now and it's only 9:00 p.m. I started the day working on a custom order from one of my favorite customers. (Hi G!) The aromas of green apple and fresh squeezed orange scented candles wafted from my basement studio through the entire house. It smelled like springtime! I did some packaging of items for the upcoming boutique. I worked on bottle caps for future magnets and drink charms. I even scrubbed the floor in the foyer, kitchen, and dinette areas of the house.

I also spent some time on the computer, checking Etsy now and again, just to see the magnificent, whimsical, and beautiful items on display, including mine! I updated my sidebar to include my EtsyMini. I chatted with some fellow Etsians about troubles and successes.

So far my little mini vacation is turning out just fine. My snark level went down about ten points today. There's still so much to do, but I have three more days in which to accomplish things. There will be more candle pouring, more bottle cap making, more cutting, more pasting, and yes, even more house cleaning.

Springtime is a time of renewal. Perhaps my temperament isn't so much because of the anniversary of my day job as it is the need to shed my winter layer and break out rejoicing in the new season. I do so love the heaviness, darkness, and quite of winter, but I'll admit to smiling when I see those first robins flitting among our backyard pine trees.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Late Night Musings

I'm compelled to write an entry tonight, but I really have no idea what to say. I'm tired.

Being new to Etsy has taken up a lot of my computer time. I want to learn as much as I can about the site and its inner workings. I haven't had a huge turnout at my shop yet, but the chatter going around says sales have been slow lately. Hopefully things will pick up for everyone.

Coming soon is the Chickadee Boutique. It's a cozy little boutique owned and run by a very seasoned professional. She treats her customers and artists very well. Shopping there makes you feel like you're spending the afternoon in the country. Perhaps it's the little cottage in which she displays the wares. Or maybe it's the smell of the wood-burning stove she has going on chilly days. No matter, the Chickadee Boutique is a must-see if you are in the area. If information on this isn't on my sidebar yet, it will be shortly.

I've also got scoop on a craft show taking place at a winery, which might be the perfect venue for my drink charms. I'll be posting pictures of those at a later date.

Looks like this is going to be a pictureless entry. I'm going to be taking a few photos in the next fews days as I've treated myself to an extended weekend from my day job. There will be candle pouring, magnet making, drink charm beading, and yes, even some housework going on around here. I have so many dust bunnnies I've taken to naming them.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fantastic Multi-Wick Candle

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time; I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out how I could do something similar myself. Alas, I don't think I'm an experienced enough chandler to accomplish something like this and still have it be safe. You light the candle as you would any other. As it melts the wax, additional embedded wicks are ignited, making it possible for this candle to have up to five flames at ones.

If you can, go to the website and watch the candle burn.

I marvel at the ingenuity.

Picture, video, and amazing creativity provided by Christoph Van Bommel and his website,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Starving Artist

I know a lot of you out there sell your craft/artwork. I've been toiling over a matter lately on which I'd love your opinion.

The question is: Do you sell your work so you can make more crafts/art, or do you make your crafts/art so you can sell them?

There's a fine line between the two. I used to think it was more noble to use sales solely as a means to empty out the studio, making more room for future works. Of course one likes to make money for one's hard work, but should works be made for the purpose of being sold, or simply for the purpose of existing?

I suppose it all depends on what you are creating. While candles can be artistic to some extent, I'd find it hard to call them works of art. But still, do I engage in the act of creating candles because I love to create candles? Or do I create candles so I can sell them and make money?

Am I a sell-out if I create products for an upcoming sale rather than using an upcoming sale to purge my studio?

The longer I'm in business the more nobility I give to creating for the purpose of selling. In my line, at least, I put the customer first. At this particular boutique I know the clientele likes drink charms, while at that store the clientele loves beeswax candles. I'm going to create with the customer in mind rather than indulge myself in the studio.

It all depends on what your art/craft is, I guess. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about it. Is it really such a bad thing to be a successful artist? Who says the good ones have to starve?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Did You Know? You Don't Have To Be Afraid Of Wax

I've been making candles for a long time now. One thing I've learned being a chandler for over a decade is that all candles have emissions. That bears repeating: all candles have emissions.

At a craft show a couple of years ago my booth was placed across the isle from a booth selling reed diffusers. For two straight days I kept hearing the vendor telling her prospective customers how much better the diffuser was than burning candles, what with the soot and toxins emitted from candles. I've also heard and read claims by numerous candle makers that one wax is better than another because it "burns cleanly" or "doesn't smoke."

Let me set the record straight. Whether you burn a high-grade paraffin, soy wax, palm wax, or beeswax, pillar candle or container candle, there will be emissions simply for the fact that there is a flame. However, emissions aren't necessarily in the form of black smoke, soot, or toxins.

Here is a paragraph explaining the chemistry of a candle, taken from

The wax oxidizes (burns) in the flame to yield water and carbon dioxide, which dissipate in the air around the candle, in a reaction which also yields light and heat. Candle wax is composed of chains of connected carbon atoms surrounded by hydrogen atoms. These hydrocarbon molecules can burn completely. First the heat of the flame vaporizes the wax molecules and then they react with the oxygen in the air. As long as the wax doesn't melt away from the flame, the flame will consume it completely and leave no ash or wax residue.

The most important factor in a smoking candle is the ratio between wick size and candle diameter. It is up to the chandler to determine the perfect wick size for the candle she is making. It is up to the customer to follow all instructions regarding keeping the wick trimmed while burning the candle.

Fragrance oil is also a big factor in whether a candle smokes or emits an undesirable byproduct. "Triple-scented" or "highly-scented" candles may have an overload of fragrance oil, which can affect the burn of the candle and may produce smoke.

As far as wax is concerned, one is not necessarily better than another other than what your personal value system may be. Many people prefer waxes such as soy, palm, and beeswax because they are not petroleum-based products. Natural waxes come from renewable resources, while petroleum-based wax (paraffin) contains a non-renewable resource. This doesn't mean paraffin candles are bad for you or the environment when they are burned. It simply means when there is no petroleum left, paraffin candles will be a thing of the past.

Choose your chandlers with care. Chances are very good you get what you pay for. You don't want a candle made from canning wax that has been colored with bits of crayon. You also don't want any kind of candle that is overloaded with fragrance oil. A great aroma can come from a moderate amount of oil.

I use high-grade paraffin wax, palm wax, and beeswax in my candle making. I love the versatility of paraffin, the surface designs that result with palm wax, and the natural scent and long-lasting burn of beeswax. All of these waxes produce beautiful candles, and all of them have natural chemical emissions when they are lit.

Beware of salespeople claiming one wax is more healthy than another. It's simply a sales pitch. Also beware of your purchases. Buy from sources you trust and have been happy with in the past. Pay attention to your candles as they burn. Badly made candles come in all wax types, as do candles that are well made.

Candles are one way to add wonderful ambiance and aroma throughout your home. Their "emissions" are certainly nothing to be afraid of if they're made well, no matter what type of wax.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section of this post. I'll be happy to answer them the best I can.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Busy Days Ahead

Hello from the land of no sleep.

Things are getting busy around here. Shows and boutiques are coming up, not to mention personal orders (thanks everyone!) and store restocking. You'd think I'm rich and famous by now, but in reality the bulk of my waking hours are still spent at my day job, which is becoming rather pesky to me. I'd much rather be spending all of my time pouring delicious-smelling candles (tonight was Country Garden and Citrus & Teakwood) and creating fun things like magnets and drink charms.

The drink charms are at the top of my list right now, as they are a hot seller at boutiques. They're fun little items and encourage hosts and hostesses to open up those bottles of wine that have been gathering dust in the basement wine cellar. I'll have some for sale at my shop as soon as I'm satisfied with the inventories needed elsewhere. Not that my shop takes second billing or anything...

There's a break in store for me soon, however, as Husbie and I are going to spend a little time at the casino this coming weekend. I have visions of a square candle that looks like a die. A dice? You know, that little thing with the dots on it. Even gambling inspires me. Coming soon will be drink charms featuring the coveted royal flush. Plus Joker, of course. After all, isn't he wild?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lazy Afternoons

It’s a rainy day here. The precipitation in this area hasn’t been liquid in months. Temperatures rise, and instead of simply providing light the sun actually feels warm during the day. But the sun isn’t out today. It’s overcast and drizzly. The snow is slowly meltin away. I have a fire going in the fireplace to take the damp feeling out of the air. It’s going to be another cozy night in Minnesota.

Although I got quite a few things done today, pouring votives and pillars, labeling and packaging orders, and even a few household chores, it’s been a lazy day. What’s more perfect for a lazy day than a nap? Husbie has the right idea and is napping right now. And what’s better to get you started on a rainy, lazy afternoon nap? An eye pillow, of course. You’d look sort of like this if you had one:

You can find and eye pillow exactly like this in my shop. They’re relaxing and comforting. They’re also used by practitioners of yoga during their relaxation and meditation sessions.

So place a little pillow of comfort on your eyes and let your worries melt away. After today’s rain and tonight’s dropping temperature, you’ll have enough to worry about tomorrow morning when you have to scrap that thin layer of ice off your windshield.
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