Living A Simplified Life!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Country Farmhouse Charm

As I travel down the road to my daughter's place, there is a house that looks just like this one. I would love to go inside and browse around.  I can picture my daughter and her family living in this house.

This house plan, from the house plan shop, has 1250 sq ft with an additional 341 sq ft of bonus room. Downstairs there are two good-sized bedrooms, the master bedroom suite with its own bathroom and a hall bath to serve the other bedroom and guests. Upstairs a loft and a 3rd full bath can be finished out. Build this house on a basement, slab or crawl space; but with a basement underneath, developing this additional space later on would be easy.

As you approach this home, the first thing you will notice of course is the big wrap-around porch! What a great place to enjoy the morning solitude, watching the sun comes up, drinking a cup of coffee  or relaxing over an ice tea with a neighbor in the afternoon. The soaring cathedral ceiling and an upper level loft, makes this home feel very spacious and large. This is actually a one-story home, with the loft being available for another bedroom, office or game room. The open floor plan of the living room, dining area and kitchen creates a feeling of spaciousness while the fireplace in the living room gathers you in for a feeling of coziness and old farmhouse type gatherings. I can picture the mantle decorated for the holidays with Christmas stockings, fresh pine boughs and hurricane lanterns.  The Christmas tree in front of the living room windows, decorated with old country ornaments. Family and friends will gather around the handy kitchen island with breakfast bar, enjoying a meal or just good old conversation as you prepare a batch of cookies or make some homemade bread. There is easy kitchen access to and from the covered rear porch, which is great for entertaining during the summer months, or getting out the smoker to cook a turkey even in the winter!  A great feature about this house is the laundry closet, which is near the bedrooms saving you many steps on washday. A private bath and walk-in closet enhance the master bedroom while the second bedroom accesses a hall bath. I do not know about you, but I am getting the boxes packed because I am ready to move in!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments

Over on the Christmas Crafts page I just posted an article about how to make Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments.  These are always fun to make and fun to give! If you have children, this is a project that you can involve them in and they will be entertained for hours. If you don't have a set of Christmas cookie cutters, be sure to pick up a set or two, you will need them not only for your salt dough ornaments but for all those regular Christmas cookies you plan to bake this year!

Grandmas and Grandpas love getting homemade gifts, so be sure to put their name on the list for a few of these. Be sure to have the kids sign the backs with the year they made them, because these will become keepsake items for sure!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles are wonderful. A light, warm glow and a wonderful sweet scent make them truly delightful. Rolled beeswax candles are about the easiest candles to make. You do not need a melting pot or have to heat a stove to make them since you will not melt the wax. This is a great safe project for kids!

Here is what you will need:

Beeswax sheets (they usually come in about 8" x 16" sheets
Primed wicking material appropriate for a 1” candle. If making larger diameter candles, adjust the wicking accordingly.
A sharp knife, I use a small kitchen paring knife, or single-edged razor blade.
A suitable cutting surface such as an old cutting board is good.

Lay out your beeswax sheet and cut the wick to about 3/4ths of an inch longer than the wax. If using an 8-inch sheet, the wick is about 91/4 inches.

By leaving approximately, 3/4ths of an inch on each end of the sheet, if one end looks better than the other does you can make either end the top!

Lay the wick along the edge of the sheet and start rolling the candle by bending over about 1/8th inch of the wax. You can turn the wax over and bend the 1/8th inch channel along the corner of the counter or use a cutting board. This way you will have a neat, straight channel for the wick. With this small channel, you will enclose the wick. Working from one end to the other, press down firmly to make sure the wax is tight around the wick. This is the only time that you will press hard with the beeswax sheets!  From now on, you will be gentle with your beeswax because you do not want to compress or warp the honeycomb pattern.

Start rolling the wax slowly and straight, making sure that you are keeping the ends even and just keep rolling until you reach the end.

Tip: If you want larger in diameter candles, to add another sheet of wax, just butt a second sheet up to the edge of the first sheet, give the two sheets a few presses with your thumbnail to help join them together, and continue rolling.

Gently press the final edge down onto the side of the candle. It should form a smooth edge. You can use your thumbnail to press down, every inch or so, if you feel this is necessary. Pick which end is the best "top", cut the wick off the bottom and trim the top wick to about ½ inch.

Beeswax sheets are easy to cut with scissors. If sheets are brittle, hold them over steaming pan of water or use a hairdryer to soften the wax. You can save a little of the wax to "prime the wick", which is dipping the end of the wick into the melted wax. This will help your candle light easily when you are ready to use it. Beeswax candles burn without the toxic fumes like those produced with paraffin candles.

If you want short chunky candles, you can cut the wax sheets in half, or play with making them different heights.  Group them together in a centerpiece arrangement, or on a fireplace mantle with boughs of greenery, Christmas tree balls and garlands of beads. They are also striking placed in the middle of a table on top of a mirror circle, or tucked inside glass chimneys.