Fall Themed Candles Embedding Real Leaves

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Today, I’m going to show you one way to preserve those beautiful Fall leaves you found, and make something beautiful to add to your warm Autumn home decor. Candles! 

00_ We’re simply taking store-bought medium-pillar candles, and embedding the real leaves as a beautiful decorative element.
To do this, I’ll be using a separate wax medium.  The reason I am choosing to not just glue the leaves on, or seal them in with Modge Podge or something, is because those mediums are flammable.  I likely will be burning these candles. While I won’t burn them very low, I didn’t want to take the chance of having anything chemically-flammable as part of the candle, when it is easy enough to avoid that. Also, embedding the leaves within the sides of the candles will give the look I am trying to achieve.

All you’ll need for this project is some pillar candles of some sort, some plain melting wax (for candle making), your pressed leaves that you collected, and some pans. (A few other optional supplies will be mentioned along the way.)

01_pressing-fall-leaves The first step in working with real leaves, is to ‘press’ them.  This not only flattens them, but somewhat preserves their moisture for a bit, yet keeps their pliability to be able to work with them well.   I press them by placing my leaves between the pages of a newsprint pad of paper, and putting a small pile of magazines, or whatever for weight, on top.  A few days will do.


02_melting-candle-wax-for-dipping You’ll want to melt your wax over some kind of consistent heat.Making do with what I had, I cut some chunks off of my premium wax block, and put it in a roasting pan, over 2 burners on my electric stove on a very low heat. Possibly even the simmer setting. Start at the lowest and increase the heat as needed. Every stove is different, but generally speaking, you want the wax just liquid-y, but never to the point of bubbling. How much wax you melt depends on how many leaves you’ll be adhering, how many candles you are decorating, etc.  But regardless, you certainly want the wax deep enough to completely submerge a leaf.

  Once your wax is melted, you’ll want to have your pillar candles and leaves readily available to work with. Also, have a sheet of wax paper on a flat surface nearby, to be able to put your candle down as needed.

*This is a very important tip!
You need to keep your pillar candle itself somewhat warm to apply the dipped, hit-wax leaves successfully. The reason being is that lying your hot waxed leaf on the cold surface of the candle immediately sets the wax, and it does not apply well at all. 

But I have two great tips to choose from, for keeping your pillar candle warm:

1)  Have a heating pad on high on your nearby counter-top, with a sheet of waxed paper on it. You can roll the whole thing up with your pillar candle in it (in the waxed paper), or, you can simply lie the candle on it’s side, keeping warm on the side you’ll be applying to.

Or you can go with second option, which is what I ended up doing:
04_ 2) Simply lie the candle on the warm stove, beside the working burners to keep it warm. Obviously you don’t want your pillar candle to melt. But your burners should not be high enough to do that. This method worked well for me, as long as I did apply the just-dipped leaves to the warm area of the candle.

So here we go!
03_wax-dipping-leaves Dip your leaf in the hot melted wax, holding it completely submerging in the wax for a few moments. Keeping it submerged for a few moments (as opposed to dipping and retrieving) will really help the leaf get limp, which will be helpful in applying to the candle.

05_applying-real-leaves-to-candles (View images left to right.)
Then quickly but carefully lie and really ‘cling’ your whole leaf to the candle, and begin to rub down all over as you can.  I say as you can, because it is hot!  And yet you want to press it down as much as you can, before it starts to set. So gently press it down all over, without rubbing hard in any way, and then really just lay your hand down over it as soon as you can while it sets.

06_applying-real-leaves-to-candles_2 Continue adding leaves for your overall design. It is alright to overlap some pf the leaves as well.
Remember to warm the candle in between, as you’re dipping your next leaf.

Now if you find the wax has set in an area that the leaf is not stuck down well, here is a little trick to re-work it:
wax-fix Dip a fork into your hot melted wax, and drip it onto the area of your unsealed leaf that needs fixing.
Then press down again with your fingers.
The stems are optional to keep as is, cut shorter, or cut off at the base. I rather like them, and am leaving them for as long as they don’t break off on their own.

07_ Once all of the leaves are applied, you might consider your candles done. But I really wanted to further seal the leaves onto the my pillar candles, so that they may better hold up for a longer period of time, without the leaves coming off.   The layer of wax over your leaves on your candle at this point is very thin, and that leaves (no pun intended) your decorative surface very fragile and at risk of being damaged.  It’s also somewhat bumpy from all of the pressing on. So another sealing coat is a good idea, and it’s easy to do!
08_seal-elements-on-candle Just heat up more wax in a sauce pan at a reasonable depth, and dunk the whole candle!  Use a size appropriate pan for the size of your handles, and no wider than you need, or you’ll need to use way too much wax to bring the level up.
Now….you also want to keep in mind that the submerging of your candle is going to drastically rise the level of your very hot melted wax. So, be mindful of the amount you melt.  My goal was to melt enough to dunk the candle to just over the leaf tips, without overflowing the wax all over my stove top range. I barely made it…missing just the tips of the leaves.

*Dunk it only once, (holding it submerged for a moment or two like the leaves), as double-dipping may create such a layer of wax, that it’ll become too difficult to see the beautiful shapes and colors of your leaves.
Once lifting them up out of the pan, just carefully set them down on that sheet of waxed paper, until the whole candle cools and sets.

09_Fall-candles-real-leaves Now they are finished, and ready to add some Fall beauty to your home wherever you choose to display them.  You can enjoy them long after the leaves outdoors have dried up and crumbled away. 
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial too, and will consider having fun making some Fall candles with real leaves yourself.

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Doors to Storage. (Literally.)

We’re guessing many of you love to see little home transformations, and creative spaces, as we do, and that’s just what we hope to share with you today.  The photos we share will likely explain what we have done. But if you have just a bit of time, grab a drink of choice, and let us amuse you with a little more about the birth of this project.

We’ve heard some people try to ‘ keep up with the Jones’. But that’s not our style.  I’m sure they’re really nice peeps, and all. But they don’t run in our circles, and even if they did, I doubt we’d want or care what they have, even if we could  afford a thing.  No, our wants and needs are really quite simple. If not a little off-beat sometimes, I suppose.

What we would love to keep up with, is ourselves, and our own plans and ideas.  Michael and I enjoy walking around our home and yard, chat, brainstorm, and hatch a plan, that continues to make the best of our little piece of the world. Our ideas always have a purpose, whether they are to create a sense of decor, efficiency, organization, to save money, or simply to amuse ourselves because we think it’s cool. Many times, it’s all of the above. One thing is for sure; 100’s of plans have been laid out between us, in detail, and never come to fruition, whether it was intended to be done right away or not. Time and/or funds usually hold up the process a bit, until we’ve forgotten we even had the plan!  Sometimes, new plans and ideas have been made over the old ones we forgot, or remember we had.  And we always have more, than we could ever realistically get to, anyway.  It’s craziness, actually. So priority is the key, and some things just need to be dealt with once and for all.

Case in point is this hot mess, known as our shoes issue.  First, you should know, “I” am the kind of person, that really prefers one take off their shoes, before walking around the house.  Not because we have any fancy home, or carpet that mustn’t get dirty for appearances sake.  But, because of the things I notice in the world around me, the things I think of, and the things I know dang well those shoes have walked through.

Take for example, (just to make the most of my point), those teenage/adolescent boys you see walking through parking lots from point A to B, when you suddenly see and hear them do a big collecting sniff of sorts, hack it up, and just let it fly out onto the parking lot ground.  It turns-my-stomach. I’ve seen/heard it hundreds of times, and I have told my boys every time, “Don’t you EVAH, in your life time, do that.  I don’t care if you are 36. That is absolutely dis-gust-ting, rude and UNacceptable.” To which they reply, “We know Mama. You tell us that every time.”  So along with 100 other examples I could give (I’ll spare you), I simply know it’s a small sample of what is on the bottom of anyone’s shoes, and I really do not want to know such disgust is all over the floors of my home.

I’ll take earth-dirty-feet over that kind of what-nots, any day of the week.

So that helps explain all of the shoes, along the walls of our sun room, right inside our front door.  Keep in mind, this is also the room with our wood stove, and one of our family tables where we often eat and school, half the time. We originally imagined it as a cozier room for reading and such, possibly with a chaise lounge chair or 2, and an area rug under the table. Not the feel we had going here. Using the table for eating and schooling the other half of the time, it is the room we enter when we come home, and through which guests come as well. With only our shoes for that season out, with 6 of us, it’s too many. Any, is too many, for me.  It’s actually worse then you see. At the time of this photo, some had just been put away, and 5 other pairs were busy walking around in the world of what-not.  The bottom line is this:  the sight of these shoes always puts me in a bad mood. It looks terrible, and we are always tripping over them.  So, for a couple of years now, our plan was to build a storage bench along the wall you see. We had designed it right down to the details, and frankly, the shoes could never let us forget that plan.  It’s just been on a list of many things we’re been trying to get to.  But we finally did, with a whole new spin, and we’re about to show you.

But completely related, you need to see this…..

This is in (in part) our school room. If I ever took photos of these floor cabinets Michael built for our school room 4-5 years ago, I cannot find them.  So this photo and the one below, will have to give you an idea.  There are 3 of them along the 1/2 wall adjoining the kitchen.

 

If you can possibly look past one of our adorable boy when he was starting 1st grade, you will better see the size of these cabinets.  Michael did an great job, and they served us well in this room for 5 years.  But as of late I decided they are really (way) more specious inside, than we actually need, for our school books and materials. Very roomy.  And we probably did not need so much table-top space either.  As a whole, they take up a lot of space in this room, where there is also another long table and chairs, and where we also tend to gather to eat and school.

Since the sun room was meant to be cozier and loungier than it is, we thought a good first step, is to not let it be the door we come inside the house through, for one.  The back door would probably be better for that.  But there was still the shoes issue. We still needed somewhere to sit down and take our shoes off, and somewhere to store all of those shoes. What we did not need, was quite so much storage space, for all of our schooling materials.   I forget now exactly when, but the 2 matters collided at some point in my head, and ideas started rapidly coming together.  It was likely in the shower, which tends to be my most productive think-tank, but if that is TMI for you, disregard.

The gist of it all was….get rid of the big spacious cabinets in the school room, build some kind of more shallow shelving instead, and move this whole storage bench idea to the school room, where we should really enter the house from now on. A-hA!!  Then we can do better with the sun room! But that would be getting ahead of ourselves here.

I also had an idea of how/where else we could use the big cabinets, but that too is for another time. In a nutshell, they were moved elsewhere, and it occurred to me that it would probably come out pretty cool, and save us big-time in material costs, to build our storage bench and shelves, out of old doors.

In a matter of days, we had found 4 doors on ebay offered for dirt cheap, just a hop, skip, and maybe 2 jumps, from us. Michael arranged to meet the guy to take a look, and he brought them home. (2 of them from this photo were already moved to the school room.) The doors were dirty, and somewhat mismatched, but that was all workable.

Show and tell will go fast from here I think.All 4 doors were re-purposed in this project(s).

I loved the features on these old doors, and I knew I’d probably rough things up some more, from here.


First Michael relocated the huge cabinets to other locations. The floor space we gained just doing that, was unreal. Then, put up some leftover bead-board we had, as the back wall.

Then a bit of measuring and taking a moment to think things through, and we started to build.

The doors were sawed into half the long ways, as well as proper sized-pieces, for various parts, and we were able to start putting it together.   We wanted it a good height to sit on, and have as much room on the inside, to store/hide the abundance of shoes.


As you can see, the bench unit, using the doors, was built 3 sided, simply using the back wall as the back of the unit.   And all of our shoes fit in there perfectly.

 

Without all of the shoes inside yet, here is what the bottom looks like.  These removable racks are a feature we came up with, even when the plans was to build traditional storage benches in the front sun room:   The shoes we take off when we come indoors are not only dirty/sandy, but often times wet too.  I know what a mess the elements from the shoes made on the floor, so I had thought of that in terms of the inside of the bench, and what a pain it would be again, to move each pair of shoes, to vacuum up the sand and dirt.

 

So we built these shoe racks out out of strapping and chicken wire, so that a whole rack with shoes on it, could be lifted out, and we could vacuum underneath.  They would also keep the shoe off the floor of the bench, so they could dry easier.

 

At the same time, we were not only building the storage bench with our old doors, but wall shelves beside it, for all of our school books and materials.

 

I know it’s quirky, but I really love this part of the door-shelves.  I knew the doorknob would serve purpose, aside from looking cool. The sharpener simply needed to be relocated from elsewhere, as it ended up being located in such a way they we could no longer use it, without moving it, and this was the best place for it.

As you can see, a lot of the doors were beat-up, and the dark wood of the original door showed through. I liked that.  But a few parts of the structures were also necessarily built with new wood.

Such as the shelving itself, built with new wood.  So there was still some distressing and aging to do anyway, on new wood and not, which I did with course sand paper, and dark wax, to properly stain and age the new wood, with the old.

 

Here is the lid to the storage unit open, pre-distressed. Obviously a door, but this side was painted by the original owner more recently, it appeared.  To add interest, and of course organization and function, we added a collection of old and mismatched doorknobs along the wall above it.

 

Here’s a better look as you step back and look at it as a whole. Again, we obviously used doors, and we intended for it to remain obvious, keeping every lock , doorknob and door feature we could.

Coming into the house using the back door, we come in and sit down on the bench to take off our shoes, and put them inside.  I should add, we will be putting down a mud runner, from the backdoor to along the front of this bench.  The little kids can hang their jackets and hats on the doorknobs, which is much easier for them as they cannot reach well in the coat closet that is in the room.  Yes, some coats will be too long to hang completely, leaving the bottom of the coats to sit on the bench, but that’s fine.  Scarves, bags and all kinds of accessories can be hung on the knobs too.

 

The top shelves are for what you can see, as well as some of our music books.  I have many more of my teacher and resource school books that I plan to move from other shelves in the house to these upper ones, for my own use. But the depth we made the door shelves was just right for our needs.

 

The lower shelves are for the kid’s school books, and more of my every day teacher books.  As you can see, we found immediate use for this original doorknob, as well.

 

The kids hang their recorder instruments there. Perfect!


I forgot to take photos of the bench with the lid closed, before we embellished it just a little bit.  But in closing this post, I wanted to give you a better look at the finished bench and shelves.

 

In an upcoming post, we will share with you the embellishments details you see, and how exactly we did it, with a surprise inside as well! But that’s pretty much the finished project as a whole.

We have found the entire project to serve us much better. It’s all so much more convenient, functional, and we think, has a cool factor.  I would think it’s the kind of thing that one would either love, or hate.  And I wonder, would features such as these, have a negative 0r positive impact on the ability to sell a house, should the time arise?  What do you think? We personally love the uniqueness and interesting features of people’s homes, and this fits right in with why we love ours. Everyone’s tastes vary, and so our feelings could never be hurt. But we’re curious to know what you think of this idea?  Is it cool, creative, or downright crazy?

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An Old Ladder, With New Purpose

In addition to our continual progress of finishing the inside of our home since our major house reconstruction, we’ve had a continually growing list of ideas for smaller projects around our home.

One of them has involved this ladder inside our home.

It has been right here where you see it, every since we bought our home in 1995.   What has changed a lot, is almost everything around the ladder.  For one thing, at the foot of this ladder, where you now see French doors to our sun room, was a brick hearth, to a black iron coal stove, that was built into a brick wall as a fireplace of sorts.

You may wonder just what the purpose of the ladder was.

Well, at the top of the ladder, was a carpeted crawl loft, that was open to and overlooked the living space.  We had a few large floor plants up there, that looked lovely in the sunlight, that streamed in from the skylights.

But when we added a second story to our home, the crawl loft, and all of the new construction to the backside of the house, became the boy’s room.  So, a wall replaced our beloved crawl loft.

As you’ve probably figured out along the way here, the ladder was the way to get up into the loft.

 

It’s a beautiful, solid, solid (read: HEAVY!!) wood.  It’s the same natural wood the beams were made of, that also used to be a part of the house.


As a humorous tidbit of knowledge for you, (if you’ve never been through our home reconstruction posts), the crawl loft became our (mine and Michael’s) bedroom, when we gave our own to our triplets following their birth.   The house only had 2 bedrooms at the time, and ours was by far the biggest.   So…we took our bed down, put the mattresses up in the crawl loft, and we climbed the ladder to bed every night.

We really didn’t mind it, much. You couldn’t really see our bedding that much, and it was….cozy. : )    I’d say it was even kind of fun.  Except for when one of the kids woke up, and needed us.  Or, when we had to go potty.   I feared in the dead of night many times, that I would fall trying to descend the ladder in my sleepy state, and splat on the brick hearth below.    But it never happened.  Maybe because Michael said “Be care-ful” every.single. time. I had to go down.  Even when he was sleeping.

Oh…..{A} just found a photo that will give you an idea of how much the house has changed:

See the loft at the top?  With big boxy openings, roped off with 2 ropes.  You can also see the natural beams I spoke of.  They were great for wrapping Christmas lights on, and using for outdoor toddler swings, in the house!  The beams were so strong, and with the cathedral ceiling, there was plenty of room! Of course they had outdoor swings too.  Boy did they love swinging.  You can also see what was the back door.  That wall came down, and there is a school room there now, on the other side of the stairwell that descends into the floor.   Yes…things have changed.  Drastically. Inside and out.   Do you love seeing houses transformations?  I’ll post the links on our OHOJN Facebook Page sometime soon, if you’d like.  But be sure to ‘Like’ the OHOJN Facebook Page, so you don’t miss them in your feed!  I put lots of fun extras there, for you all.

 

Anyway….ever since the loft was ripped out and the wall went up, the ladder-to-nowhere,  has remained there.  We couldn’t get rid of it! It was a sentimental piece.  We always loved that ladder, and it’s one of those things people always mention when they first visit our home.   It’s unique, and unusual, in a home. But really…. it’s needed purpose!  And it’s looked dark and ….. well, heavy, in our light and airy living space.

So I had an idea to make the ladder more useful, and we started by doing something possibly, crazy.

 

We painted it white.  After adding a few little pieces you may notice, which you’ll understand why in a moment.

Now, if you know me, I’m really not down with perfectly painted stuff.  I like things old. Beat up. Worn.

 

So I took a sandpaper covered block, and ‘had-at’ the newly painted ladder.

 

And wore a hole in it. : )  (The sandpaper of course. Not the ladder.)

 

I did my best to make it look……well, not ‘just painted’.

 

But I’m not any kind of expert at distressing pieces yet.  I’m sure it needs something more.  A glaze of some kind, to crack the paint some, or something.  I don’t want to yellow it, as a lot of the ‘new paint’ around is white as snow.  But, I plan to ask a friend what more I can do, to push it a little more.

But the purpose of painting the ladder, and adding the little crossbars to the back, was to use it for….

Books!!

With the exception of when we were actually using the ladder every day to access the loft, we’ve always had photo frames and little things displayed on the ladder. I just took them off before photographing it before.  But, we are swimming in books around here.  So I thought it would be a creative and useful transformation.

 

Mostly it’s the kid’s books on the ladder for now, with the bottom step left open for stepping up and reaching higher.   There are lots more books, that will be relocated to the ladder, soon.  And we have more book shelving that Michael just installed as well, that will be for another post.

 

Because not only do the kids have more reading books, but then there are my own, and some of my mother’s too.   Books of all kinds.  For leisure, for education, for how-to, for you-name-it.  As I said, we’re swimming in them.

 

I actually filled a couple of boxes recently, with books to get rid of.    We have cabinets filled, and boxes downstairs, of more books – still needing sorting.

 

So this ladder transformation I think was a wise one.   The ladder now ahs purpose.  I’m sure it feels more worth, in it’s day to day life.  We all need purpose.  Don’t you think?


I have to admit:   I’m feeling a little pang inside, about painting over this beautiful wood.

Do you think that was a mistake?

 

But I do think the corner as a whole, looks a little cheerier, and more in keeping with what the rest of the house has going on.  Because we’ll probably be doing something with those wooden breakfast bar chairs too.  Not painting them white.  But they need stripping of the shellac , or something.

Anyway….

BEFORE                                                                                       AFTER

What do you think?  A good idea?   And are you cringing, because I painted that wood?  Go ahead and tell me the truth.  I think I can take it.

 

I shared this re-do project at All Things Heart & Home.



Love Is……

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Love Is…..A Give-Away!!

To give a little LOVE back to you all, we thought it was high time for some give-aways!  Anyone up for that?

First up, we’d love to give-away this faux-vintage decoupaged metal set, of a watering can, and a little container.

It could be a lovely touch, for your home decor.

It’s not much, but the set is rather sweet!  Shabby-chic-ish!

One detail I really love, is the message on the side of the container:

(Family) Where the seeds of character are planted.(Home)

Isn’t that the truth.

The container can be used for an indoor plant, a starter plant, a pen and pencil cup, or any little junk!

The watering can would look sweet in a little girl’s room.

It’s not perfectly made.  It’s on the rustic side.

It’s imperfections are, to me, what gives our little treasures character.

You can try to win this Give-Away for yourself, for your daughter, for a friend, or as a gift you may re-give come Christmas. (We’ll never tell a soul. ;  )

Since we are always trying to get to know our blog visitors a little better, we thought it would be fun to share a little, in the comments.  Since the theme as of late, is LOVE, here’s how you can qualify to WIN this faux-vintage set, delivered right to your door for NADA!:

Please share at least 10 things that you really love. Things that share with us and the readers, a little bit about what makes you, YOU.  Not “Oh, I love my kids…..”etc.,…..after all, if you don’t love your kids……..well, we just sure hope you do.

The Give-Away will end Monday night, the 22nd of February.  We’ll announce the winner sometime on Tuesday, via the Random dot org number puller.

So…..we’ll go first!

(Just so you know, my kids helped me compile my list, and you can do the same. Sometimes others can do a better job pointing out these things, than we can of ourselves.  After all, if they shout it out at you like it’s a good one, it’s probably a consistently obvious thing they can tell tickles your fancy.)  So, here we go….in no particular order! :

Laura

  1. photography
  2. mass/praying
  3. snowstorms
  4. first coffee of the day
  5. antiques/old imperfect things
  6. my kid’s love for learning
  7. my kid’s artwork
  8. Teri (lol)
  9. trees in autumn
  10. scarves
  11. home schooling
  12. my home
  13. blogging


Michael

  1. fishing
  2. muscle cars
  3. outdoors
  4. my home
  5. music from 60-70’s
  6. coffee
  7. cake
  8. home-made pizza
  9. my work
  10. a good homily
  11. helping others
  12. free stuff!!

We look forward to reading your own lists!!

Good luck to you all!

A Peek at Fall Decor Around Our Homestead

I say it all of the time;  I’m no Martha Stewart, but I sure enjoy seasonal home decor!  It’s one of the many things that put the ‘happy’ in our home for me.  I love doing the decorating, and I love seeing it, but I don’t like much taking it down and putting it away.  (Do chefs love to clean up?  lol).  I didn’t get to as much as I wanted to this year with my schedule, but it was enough for me anyway.  If you love seeing the little things around other’s home as much as I do, then I hope you enjoy this small handful of photos.

A

B

I can’t believe I don’t have mums in yet.  See the dead flowers in the flower box back there?  It hasn’t been for lack of trying!  I went to get some at the local nurseries, and got there right after they closed.  Twice.

C

I wanted this sunroom for-ever. When my dream finally came true, I knew it would be MY room.  Of course, I share it with my family 100% of the time, but I knew I would fill it with things that means a lot to me.  I knew I would really use it to reflect the seasons and holidays. In terms of ordinary day-to-day decor, it’s still not as I want it, but it will be in time.  I am embracing slow progress in my older years here.   It is still filled already with many things I do love, all of the time:  tons of windows and natural light, a wood stove, an old farm table, home schooling…..And my family. : )

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There is more around the homestead, but I realized Halloween, and the beginning of Hallowtide,  is TOMORROW!! So I figured I’d best just post what I’ve got photographed.

As I said, I do love seeing others seasonal home decor.  If you have blogged, or have a Flickr photos of your own seasonal decor, please leave me a link in the comments too!  I’d love to come and see!!