DIY Eggshell Candles

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There is something about special events that bring out the DIY’er in me.  It doesn’t matter if it is birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays… the stash of materials come out of the drawers and closets while the dining room table is turned into a workstation.

But it gets even better.  Since I have a flock of chickens in the backyard, just knew that besides enjoying the fresh eggs, that there had to be a project just waiting to be discovered in the leftover eggshells.  And you know what?  There is.  All that it takes is a steady hand and some careful cracking.  Add in wicks and wax and you have the makings of a perfectly charming candle.

Eggshell candles begin with the eggshell.  Rather than cracking the egg in half, the cracking point is moved to the top 1/3 of the eggshell.  Use your hand to carefully remove the top of the eggshell and either discard or save for another use.  (Save the yolk and white for cooking or baking).  Let the eggshell air-dry.

Materials for Eggshell Candles

  • dry eggshells
  • wick tabs
  • braided wick
  • paraffin wax
  • fragrance oil (optional) of your choice

Place paraffin wax into the top of a double boiler.  For crafting/project purposes, do not use the same one that you use for cooking.  Make a trip to a thrift store or a local garage sale and get a double boiler just for projects (or simply place a pan no longer used for cooking over a larger pan/pot that is partially filled with water to create your own double boiler).  With the stove set to a medium low heat, melt the wax.  After the wax is melted, remove the double boiler from the stove top.  If you are adding fragrance, stir it in now.

melting paraffin over modified double boiler

melting paraffin over modified double boiler

NOTE: do not place the paraffin directly over heat (use a double boiler) as paraffin is flammable… it is a byproduct of petroleum distillation process.

As wax is melting gather your wick tabs and braided wick.  Carefully thread a 2 1/2″ length of wick through the wick tab (leaving a small tail at the underside of the tab).  Press the tines of the wick tab down to secure the wick in place.   To simplify this step, some craft stores or online retailers sell wick tabs with a wick already in place.

wick tabs and braided wick

wick tabs and braided wick

Grasp the top of a wick and lower into the melted paraffin so the wick tab comes in contact with the wax.  Now carefully lower the wick and tab into an eggshell.  To help maneuver the tab into place, use a toothpick to guide the tab to the bottom of the shell.  Gently press the tab so it comes in contact and adheres to the bottom of the shell due to the paraffin on the bottom of the tab (may need to dip the tab several times).

Once the tab is secure, straighten the wick and lift it up so it clears the top of the eggshell.

wick tab and wick positioned in eggshell

wick tab and wick positioned in eggshell

With a steady hand, carefully pour the melted paraffin into the eggshell.  Use your fingers or the toothpick to keep the wick slightly to the side as you pour the wax.  As the wax cools, it will begin to turn white.  Once the eggshell candles are cool enough to handle, trim the wicks to 1/4″  – 1/2″ above the wax.

To present these as gifts, arrange in egg cartons.  Egg cartons are easy to cut in half so you can gift a half-dozen eggshell candles.  Or if you made plenty, you can gift a dozen of these candles at a time.

completed eggshell candles

completed eggshell candles

When burning these candles, do not light them while still in the styrofoam or cardboard egg carton.  Place the eggshell candle into a small votive or even in an eggcup (glass or ceramic) for a cute display and stand for burning.  For a larger display when the eggshell candles are lit, place in a six or nine-hole ceramic egg carton.

How to Make Recycled Gift Boxes

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With the holiday season coming up, gift giving is on my mind.   But in addition to the gifts, do you give the wrapping a second thought?  What if you are trying to be green?  What if you have limited funds?  Well, there is something you can do.  You can make your own recycled gift boxes.

card and materials to create a box

card and materials to create a box

Now what I have in mind are smaller gift boxes.  Think gift cards, jewelry, a few pieces of candy, or maybe a sweet handkerchief.  If you want a recycled option for wrapping a chainsaw… well… that is another post.

I use something that I have on hand or more specifically, save just for this time of year.  Holiday cards from the previous season can be turned into gift boxes.  For the most appealing packaging, select a card with a pretty design or graphic near the center of the card.

Using a ruler mark the dimensions of the completed box size which includes the amount folded over to create the sides of the box.  For instance, if the card you select is 6″ x 4″, you can mark (on the under side of the card) what you want the size to be… perhaps 5″ x 3″ or perhaps 4″ x 4″.  Now measure from those points inward (towards the center of the card) a uniform measurement such as 1/4″, 1/2″, etc.  This amount will be the height of the sides of the box.  In other words, the depth of the box.  Be sure that all sides are uniform otherwise the box will be lopsided.

cut from edge to fold line to create a flap

cut from edge to fold line to create a flap

Now using a sharp pair of scissors, cut along the outer measurement.  Next fold along marks you made for the depth of the box.  (Fold inwards towards the center of the card).  At each corner, use scissors to cut from the edge of the card up to a fold line (this should look like a small flap).  You will have four cuts that will now allow you to fold, creating corners.  Either tape or glue the flap to secure each corner.

flap folded and taped to create corner

flap folded and taped to create corner

Congratulations!  You have just created the top of the box.

finished top of box

finished top of box

Use the remaining large portion of the card to create the bottom of the box. Repeat the previous steps, but decrease the measurements by 1/8″. Example: 4 7/8″ x 3 7/8″.  Remember, you want the top of the box to fit over the bottom of the box.

This project is a fun way to create custom boxes for small items, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.  You can recycle cards from previous years and turn them into pretty gift boxes that don’t require wrapping paper.  (And if the boxes are created from fairly substantial paper, you can reuse them year after year).

assortment of recycled gift boxes

assortment of recycled gift boxes

So sit down with and get ready to make this family friendly project.  Involve your kids by having them select their favorite cards.  They can help measure and mark the dimensions.

With the holidays around the corner, you have plenty of time to create your own custom gift boxes.  Have fun!

10 Life Lessons I Learned from my Chickens

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As someone who grew up with chickens (my parents raised them for both meat and eggs), chicken chores fell on my shoulders.  Sure, while my friends were watching TV or riding their bikes, I was cleaning out nest boxes, gathering eggs, and carrying buckets of feed to refill the feeders.  After a hiatus of not having chickens while in college or even when I was working at my first job after college, I was ready to have a flock.

urban flock enjoying the run

urban flock enjoying the run

Even though there is work involved, I still love hens.  They provide fresh eggs, entertain me with their antics, and they help control the insect population in the backyard.  By looking at them as individuals from one season to the next,  I truly saw how they lived their lives.  And you know what?  A lot of what I learned can be applied to my daily living.

10 Things I have Learned from my Flock

  1. Get out and enjoy the outdoors on nice days.  Snow, cold, and rain may limit outdoor adventures.
  2. Eat your vegetables when they are in season.  Nothing tastes better than when they are at the peak of ripeness (or when you snitch them out of the garden when you think no one is looking).
  3. Don’t be afraid to wander away from the flock.  (You just may find the biggest grubs by yourself).
  4. Even if you can’t fly, don’t be afraid to stretch your wings. You just may get off the ground after all.
  5. Hold your ground.  Stake your claim in your favorite nest box and don’t leave until your ready regardless of how many others try to force you out.

    hen staking her claim at her favorite nest box

    hen staking her claim at her favorite nest box

  6. Listen to the squawk of others.  There really may be a hawk flying overhead.
  7. Share your spa time with others.  A good dust bath is really more fun with the rest of the flock.
  8. Let folks know when you are happy and content.  It’s okay to trill out loud.
  9. You don’t have to have a large McMansion to be happy.  Your small, urban     coop is adorable, comfortable, and it is a wonderful home.
  10. Be proud of your achievements.  Go ahead and sing that egg song nice and loud!
egg-in-nest-box-cr

egg-in-nest-box-cr

So with this list in hand, life is quite enjoyable for both my flock as well as myself.  So go ahead and watch your hens.  Little life lessons exist in unexpected places.  And your teacher doesn’t necessarily have to have to be human.  What do you think you can learn from your flock?