Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's the bees' wax!

Definitely not as catchy as the bees' knees, but I'm sure there will be a few more groan-worthy bee phrases as the wedding approaches.

Bees have become the unofficial wedding theme. It started slowly and is snowballing to become a buzz-worthy {ha} event. Following this theme, we decided to make all of the candles from beeswax!

Beeswax is perfect because it ties together three of our themes/goals:
~ our main wedding color is yellow
~ it's a renewable resource, and one of my underlying goals is to take care of mother nature whenever possible
~ and, of course, there's the aforementioned bee theme

The image above is used in our invites. More on those soon!

As I've brainstormed wedding projects and crafts, I've been making a concerted effort to look at home for materials first, before thinking about what I have to buy. This has been a lot of fun because it generates a creative challenge that helps to keep costs down and reduces the total impact of the wedding. As you'll see, this project comes straight from the recycling bin!

We're using your average, store bought {or in this case Santa-delivered} bottle cutter to cut the tops off of green beer bottles, and then pouring beeswax candles into the bottom of the bottle!

Last weekend while I was stuck in front of my computer working to make a deadline, my sisters were busy as, dare I say it, bees. {Insert groan here.} We follow the basic three-step technique described in the bottle cutter's instruction kit with one modification. Rather than rubbing an ice cube around the heated etch line, we dunk the bottle into a bowl of ice water, causing the top and bottom to "pop" apart with little effort!

In the photo above, Sarah's etching a bottle on the right while Kristin's heating her etch line over a candle. In the photo below, Kris is dunking her bottle in the bowl of ice water. bing, bang, boom.

If you're lucky, you end up with some nicely cut glasses. After cutting we lightly sanded the cut edges, even though these won't be used for drinking, we don't want anyone to get cut as they handle the candles.

Using a little ball of wax, we attached a wick to the bottom of each glass before pouring the melted beeswax in.

And finally, you end up with something like this, hopefully minus the crack, but that can be filled in with a bit more wax post cooling::

Wait! We're not done, that candle above was a test subject. We wanted to see how well and how long it would burn before going crazy and pouring a whole batch of candles.

How did it go? It was a bit of a failure! We used a pack of wicks that were thin with a wire in them {just a basic pack that was easy to buy from Michaels}. Unfortunately, the beeswax pooled around the flame reducing it to a small flicker. After a bit more research, we learned that we should buy some thick cotton wicks that will pull the wax up, rather than letting it pool. So back to the drawing board; we'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Soundtrack {on Wednesday this week!}

Artist : Mat Kearney
Song : Where We Gonna Go from Here

I was trying my hardest, but I couldn't find a live version with good sound quality, so you get this::

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's the bee's knees

Get ready, we might start to talk about beeswax a lot over here. How to burn it, how to melt it, the million and one uses for it. It's going to be fun.

Today's project :: a fantabulous non-toxic wood polish

This recipe came from 3191 Miles Apart, and you can find it here.

The polish was super easy to put together, and I was so happy to put one of my thrifted vessels to such good use! One batch makes enough to last a couple of years or to share with friends.

For the past couple of years, I've been cheating and treating the wooden cutting boards with olive or vegetable oil. It soaks in nicely, but doesn't last that long and can go rancid, so I was excited to finally give this a try!

The beeswax smells so fantastic, and really, the whole process couldn't be simpler ~ spread a thin coating over your wooden objects, let them sit for a couple of days, and then polish to a shine!.... or have your lovely, detailed oriented sister polish away! {Thanks Kris*}

If you've been like me and have used food oils in the past, you'll be so impressed with this method! The beeswax really makes these pieces feel well protected. You can tell when your using them and when you're washing them as the water just beads up and rolls away (almost like waxing your car, but in a friendly, non-toxic sort of way).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So Retro

**since this post contains pictures of pictures, I encourage you to click on the photos to see more detail.

You guys, I didn't even realize that I posted this week's soundtrack on Tuesday instead of Wednesday! That's right, for two whole days now, whenever I check in on the internet I've been a day ahead in my mind, yet, somehow I've managed to live in the correct day when I'm off the internet. wow

So, my plan was to post this on Friday, and since, according to my internet brain, it is Friday, I won't pull a take-back!

Calder and I have started a nice little tradition, one that I can see continuing for a good, long while. Four years ago I made him a book of photos from our first drive across the country. He had just finished grad school and was moving to the West Coast. It was our first big road trip, and we realized that we're the best road trip partners {once the frustration with my inability to use cruise control was solved - solved in that I finally learned}. We like the same fast food, we don't mind being stuck in small spaces, we always come up with good conversation, etc. Yes, look for us in the future as one of those crazy husband-wife long haul trucking teams.
Anywho, road-tripping has definitely turned into a tradition of sorts, but this post is really about the book{s}. He loved that first book so much that I made him one the following Christmas. Rather than focus on a particular trip or event, the second book was a photo-retrospective of the entire year in chronological order.
I loved making that second book. I don't print photos often, and other than the blog or Flickr, I didn't have an outlet for all of the photos I was taking. I'm usually putting it together in late November and early December. In the middle of the holiday and end of semester craziness, it's nice to sit down for an hour here and there in the evenings to work on the book. This year it was one of the projects I worked on while staying in the cabin, which was really relaxing because there were absolutely no interruptions. Just me and the year of photos.
Every once in a while he would mention an event or memory from the past, and it always made me so happy when he would say that he thought of it because he had just looked through one of the books. Since we're never in the same city, the books had lived with Calder in California. Now that they're here with me, I've found myself taking a peek through them on a whim.

I've been looking through the books more regularly as I think about hanging pictures in the house. Of course I want to hang a few with us in it, but I'm also thinking that some of the scenes from our road trips would make great art that means something special to us.

This next page contains photos taken from the van window on one of our winter road trips through Nevada, Utah, and Colorado... and I guess now is as good of a time as any for a confession ~ I'm a bit obsessed with taking pictures of power lines. On the one hand they're an eyesore just ruining your view from the car window, on the other hand, they variations in design are beautiful. They come in so many shapes and sizes for a utilitarian object that has just as one purpose ~ keep the wires off the ground. My deep interest in energy use, and the million and one ways to make electricity also fuels, charges, zaps, electrifies my obsession. And finally, they give me a sort of eerie feeling mixed with a bit of adventure when I see these huge power lines in the middle of no-where. It's one more sign that we've "settled" an area, but we're not really there, our electrons are just passing through. I have a growing collection of power line photos, maybe one day they'll become a coffee-table book :-).

I've used to make every book. They have some software that I've found relatively easy to use, and I've always been happy with the end result. Also - if you've ordered from them in the past and are on their email list, then they usually notify you of some discounts around the holidays. I've always taken advantage of their free shipping (they do it to encourage people to get their holiday orders in early), and sometimes they offer additional discounts.

I know there are some other companies out there that do this, and if you have a favorite please let me know!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday Soundtrack

Hey hey, did you see my post yesterday?

If not, scroll down and learn more about pimping out your gloves and mittens to make them ipod friendly. While you're working on that, here's a bit of music. It's a one-stop shop!

Artist : Adele
Song : Make you Feel my Love

Monday, January 17, 2011

GO GO Gadget Gloves!

Once winter struck, I experienced the downfall of the iPhone. iPhones, like many other smart phones, have capacitive touchscreens, which require the flow of electrons between your finger and the screen to function. Unfortunately, this requires taking off your gloves to use the phone. The solution is to connect the circuit between your finger and the glove.

There is a commercial option, and I originally thought of this project when looking for Christmas gifts for C. Spending the week in Germany, I realized just how much he uses his phone, and just how cold it was there. My original plan was to buy him some conductive gloves, but once I saw how un-exciting, un-cool, un-fashionable the options were (here are some examples), I realized that this wasn't the gift for C.

A much better gift would be to modify a pair of gloves that Calder already owns and loves! In this post I'm modifying a pair of my mittens (which I love and now will never have to take off). The modification is simple ~ use conductive sewing thread to make a connection between the iPhone screen and your finger. But I can offer a few tips to ensure even better success:
1. Put the glove on and "use" your phone. Mark the points where your thumb touches the screen; this is where you'll want to make your stitches.
2. Make a number of overlapping stitches at marked point.
3. Make sure that your stitches are clearly exposed to both your thumb on the inside of your glove and the screen on the outside ~ you want those electrons flowing!
4. I left a few inches of the tails of the thread inside my glove to provide additional surface area between my thumb and the thread.
5. Put them on and enjoy the magic!

A great review of conductive threads can be found here. This site offers a variety of conductive fabrics and threads in small, quantities. I ended up purchasing a variety pack of threads from this site, but now that I re-visit the site, I'm surprised that I ordered from them because there's so little information on their site. Either I'm looking in the wrong place now or I placed my order on faith and a whole stocking of pre-Christmas goodwill.

A few more things : this is soooo super easy to do with knit gloves, because you can sew in the spaces between the knit stitches rather than having to make holes in your gloves. That said, I want to branch out and modify some of our other gloves, particularly the leather and ski gloves. I'll let you know how it goes!

GO GO Gadget Gloves!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmases two and three... three, two, one, Happy New Year!

After our German adventure, we dodged every winter storm, *almost* caught every plane, and arrived back in PA for the 25th!

Santa put mustaches in the Schu-house stockings, so of course, we posed for next year's Christmas card... Click on the picture for a secret message {hanging in the left window}.

After a couple of days on the East Coast, it was off to our annual adventure in the snow-filled Sierras!
This was by far the most snow I've experienced at Christmas. If you weren't on a plowed/shoveled path, snow shoes or a pair of skis was required. But of course, you could always cuddle up by the fire and watch the snow fall.

Check out the Dr. Suess trees::

The forest sign that should be at eye level::

And the lovely, frozen, moss::

After all of the presents were opened, and the stockings emptied, we rang in the new year with much fun, drink, and videos on the ceiling!

Next post ~ the holiday and post-holiday crafts!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can this Christmas season last any longer?

It's been the ~ longest ~ Christmas ~ ever. And boy has it been fun! So if you'll indulge me for just a moment, Merry Christmas! Again!

Here, let my friends sing you a virtual carol, or two, to get you in the mood.

It's almost a month to the day that Sarah and I took off for Germany. She was going on a photography mission, and C and I were along for the ride. A small selection of her brilliant photographs are posted on her Tumblr site. Since I'm late to the party, scroll back through her history to catch the Germany shots.

Germany was covered in snow, making its fantastic castles, churches, and timber-frame buildings look even more dramatic.

As I'm sure you know, there's a Christmas market in every town... and we can confirm that the following are simply fantastic:
-Dresden (at least a million festivals in this old city!)
-Esslinger?... there was much confusion as to where we were actually going and how you spelled it, but we were definitely somewhere.
-and Frankfurt!

I mentioned before we left that Germany was suffering from a major cold spell. As a result, we spent our time cozied up to plenty of burning logs in all shapes and sizes.

The cold was made even colder by the gray skies. GRAY skies. The cold and gray was enough to make a person go mad if it weren't for the random moments of beauty. Who knew a Ferris wheel would look so good in gray? And look at how well these doors wear their gray walls? Or wait, are the walls sporting gray doors? Like the gray? Want more? Whoa, how about a shot from Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany?

Somewhere along the way, Calder hijacked the camera. He caught Sarah and I on a serious shopping mission::Followed by a goofy moment over a bowl of mac and cheese.

Then I stole the camera back, and captured the cutest photo of my exhausted traveling buddies... See that spot in the middle? That was mine, and when we crashed, we crashed hard.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Oh boy!

No, C's not here yet, but there's some fresh bread awaiting his arrival (any minute now!). Once I stumbled upon this recipe today, I knew just what to make to add that extra bit of warm-coziness to his arrival after the long drive. Look at that recipe - so easy!

Monday, January 03, 2011


Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Holy Cow!

That deodorant post was up just a bit too long, don't you think? As usual, we celebrated (are still celebrating) the holidays to their fullest. Leaving little time for blogging, but much to catch up on!

Right now my camera and all of the holiday photos are somewhere in Nebraska, making their way across the country with Calder, the van, and the rest of our stuff as they move from one coast to another. Their current ETA is sometime late tomorrow evening, so I've raided my iPhone for some pictures for this post.

This holiday season included more travel than ever.

Exhibit 1:: the view from my napping position while waiting for 1 of the 10, yes 10, flights required to get from here to there to there to here.

Exhibit 2:: a blurry view from the autobahn. We drove it and survived! And the one thing we all agreed upon. Measuring speed with kilometers rather than miles feels the same as paying for things in Euros rather than dollars : euros are like play money, so you're not really spending "real" money from your bank account when you go on that shopping spree, and you're not "really" going 100 MPH* when your speed is measured in kilometers.

But now I'm home, recovering with one of my favorite soup recipes (paired with a grilled cheese), and gearing up to one more big gathering and end to our holiday fun before the semester starts!

We're hosting the family for the first time at the new house and it should be fun! There will be games, and if we're ambitious, we may catch up on some holiday baking that never happened in the pre-holiday hustle and bustle. I'm going to try my hand at making popovers. If they're as easy as the recipe seems, this could be a new favorite!

Once the camera returns, I'll catch you up on some of the fun sites from our travels, and, of course, the holiday crafts. The few the were finished in time and the many still waiting in the craft room!

*Don't worry Mom, we didn't quite reach 100 MPH.