Man Candles

Ever since I saw these candles at the Old City Market in Charleston, I’ve been wanting to make my own.

I already knew how to cut glass bottles (from this tutorial), so the plan was to follow this artisan’s lead and use these as the vessels for the poured wax (though she admitted she actually uses a glass cutter, not the fire/string/acetone method I use).

Josh and I spent the better part of an evening working on a large collection of empty bottles.  Without fail, the Brooklyn Lager bottles cut the first time, every single time.  However, some of the others were a bit fickle (different types of glass, slightly different shape, who knows?).

Eventually, we ended up with this:


And after ordering a plethora of soy wax, a roll of wick, wick tabs, and a bottle of vanilla scented oil,  we went to work.  Or, at least we planned on it.


That’s our plethora of soy wax.

See, while I love the glass cutting method I use as a way to make vases or containers for pens and other homey items, using the cut glass as a candle holder just doesn’t work.  Because despite my efforts to get the most precise cut, even the best bottles have a smidgen of a jagged or even sharp edge.  This didn’t sound too appealing, especially when I though about trying to get a match or lighter down in there once the wick was reaching the end of its life.

Imagine our disappointment when we set aside an entire night to do these candles, only to realize/decide we were going about it all wrong (especially my disappointment, seeing as Josh was wanting to do something crafty with me!).  The realization went like this:

ME:  (Surveying the bottles with disdain) I just DON’T think this is going to work anymore.

JOSH:  No?

ME:  No.


ME: I’m going to the dollar store.

JOSH:  Wha… Why?!

And then I was gone.

We actually have two dollar stores on our street (we are so fancy in Ditmas Park).  The first one… Meh.  Per usual.  The second always delivers and this time was no exception.

Honestly, I wasn’t gong in completely blind — I was looking for some kind of glass beer mug.  If I was going to make man candles, and the used beer bottles weren’t going to work, this was my solution.  (What’s manlier than a beer mug?)  What I found was… a glass beer mug.  (Yay second dollar store!) I bought three at a lovely $1.49 each, and not a moment too soon because as soon as I went to the counter, the holly jolly Christmas music shut off abruptly.  (Apparently it was closing time, and unlike the song, there wasn’t one last call for alcohol… mugs.  Stay with me, friends.)


So… I went home, Josh and I melted some wax, added a little bit o’ vanilla goodness, did the whole wick and tab thing, waited twenty four hours (after walking by the candles many times, desperately wanting to light them), and voila!

Well, not voila quite yet. It was actually a little more time-consuming than that.  First, I made a wick centering apparatus using two bamboo skewers and a rubber band:


Then I measured and cut the wick, then crimped it at the end with my wick tab (and pliers):


Then I added the vanilla oil to the melted wax (which we couldn’t stop sticking up to our noses — it is some goooood stuff).


After we melted the wax over the stove and added the fragrance…


…we poured it into the beer mugs, paying special attention to keep our wicks centered:


NOT centered. Boo. I had to play with this one a bit to get it back on track.

Here’s a progress shot:


Then a little later…


You can sort of see the bottoms of the mugs starting to harden and get foggy.

Then, the next morning, they had hardened until they were completely opaque (of course I got no pictures of this momentous occasion .  They were usable candles, but they were missing that extra something that makes them “gifts” as opposed to “this cool thing I made for us at home.”  It was high time for my B.F.F., PicMonkey and I to hang out. (I’m no stranger to PicMonkey.  You should check out all the good he has to offer here and here.)

Keeping with good ol’ gender stereotypes (yes!), I made this logo:


(Yes, PicMonkey has a WIDE ARRAY of mustachioed options.)

I borrowed that awesome image of a Victorian era boxer.  (I found it in a Google image search, and it’s from this website.  I do NOT own this image, nor am I using it for personal profit — it is merely for some gifts I’m giving family and nothing else.  Just covering all of my good blogging karma bases :)

I printed it out in black ink (what else?) on part of a leftover brown paper bag.  This turned of to be the perfect material, because not only was it printer friendly, but it adhered to the glass mug super well (I guess because it was so thin).  I used — believe it or not — a glue stick, which worked surprisingly well.  (And in case you’re wondering, it has passed the sitting-in-my-living-room-on-a-rainy-day-with-the-windows-open test, and it hasn’t peeled up a bit).

Ok, blah blah, blah…. Here’s the finished product:



I’m REALLY pleased with how it turned out, especially considering I was able to design and print the “label” myself using nothing but Paintbrush and PicMonkey:

2012-12-09 10.17.07-1

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I named the scent “Valiant Vanilla.”   (Yeah, sandalwood would probably make more sense as a manly scent, but… hindsight 20/20. Whatever.)   I briefly considered “Virile Vanilla,” but I can’t NOT think of the phrase “sperm count” when I hear the word virile, and that makes me really giggly.  Which is not a way to be when giving Christmas presents to your male family members.

Oh, and I have since burned our own man candle, and it smells delightful… er, valiant.  Yes.

In fact, we enjoyed the candle making experience so much, that we found two more fillable candle vessels:



Yay!  Perhaps this will become like my new spray paint.  You know?  Constantly looking for new things to stick a wick and wax in and call a candle?  The way I seek out any ugly metal surface for my spray paint addiction?  (And I don’t mean huffing).

Look out, dollar store #2.  I’m coming for you.

courtney gpp signature 2


When DIY Goes Wrong

The title is a bit more dramatic than the actual story.  No one was maimed or mutilated.  Just a DIY fail that I had to share.

(I was channeling that segment from the Chappelle Show called “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.”  Anyone?  As I’m writing this on the subway, I’m giggling out loud just thinking about it.  And believe it or not, even though its just a comic sketch, I apply this life lesson when encountering difficult strangers who say offensive/disgusting/ewww gross things to me — I just remember what Dave Chappelle taught me… and ignore them.  Who’d-a thunk it?)

Remember the last time I etched glass? Well, I loved the technique so much that I’ve been searching for another glass etching project since then, and I though I had found it in these three glass heart ornaments from Ikea (here’s the post about my trip last week).

Well, I got out my painter’s tape, put on my protective gloves, and dug through my craft box to find the glass etching cream.  Of course, the etching cream only works on glass (no plastic or Pyrex), which was A-OK by me, as the heart ornaments were clearly made of glass.  (Right?)

I taped a fun chevron pattern on one, then did an “M” and an “N” for our little children-with-tails, Margeaux and Nola.  (So sweet, I know.)


After more than the customary time with the etching cream on the “glass surface,” I rinsed off the heart in the sink (protective gloves, y’all) only to reveal….



The etching cream didn’t do a damn thing.

I was more than a little disheartened.  (For the record, I tried the technique a second time and it didn’t work.)  I assume the hearts were made of some Pyrex type material, as nothing else would explain it not working.  #DIYfail

So… In case you were following my lead on this project and going to Ikea to get some etchable heart-shaped goodness, you will be almost as let down as I was (but not quite as much as me — I totally did the Charlie Brown/Arrested Development sulking walk to “Christmastime is Here”).

So no big reveal… This is what they look like now:


And this is what they looked like before:


Ha.  Pretty anticlimactic.  However, the red gingham ribbon is gone for good (boo red), so I’ll probably just add some pretty green ribbon (like I did with these fuzzy hearts I also got from Ikea):


We’ll see.

And thus ends this episode of…

When DIY Goes Wrong.


Anyone else out there using the DIY Fail hash tag recently?  It hurts… Oh, it hurts.

(Come back tomorrow for a slightly more successful DIY adventure!)

courtney gpp signature 2

Handmade Christmas Gifts (I have faith in you)

Hi blog reading friends (both old and new),

Even though I’ve been around for a little over a year and have a very loyal readership that’s been with me from the beginning, I’ve recently acquired quite a bunch of new readers.  (Is it the volume of posts and pins?  The recent return to writing week-daily?  The slow-release ginger magic?)

So, since we are in a gift-giving time of the year, and since I try to make gifts and save money when I can, I thought I’d share a few ideas I’ve had (in the past) that I think would work well as Christmas gifts (whether individually or with something else).

For the full scoop — including a tutorial bedecked with sarcastic, strange, and/or pithy comments, — just click on the image to be linked back.

Oh, and unlike most of my round-ups, which are complete with inspiration from the World Wide Web, these are actually all my own ideas, pics, and… again… sarcastic, strange, and/or pithy comments.  So if you’re going to link or pin anything here, please attach the permalink, not just the blog’s URL (I’d do the same for you, my little chickens!).

Glass etching

DIY Chalkboard

Painted spoons

Handmade Clipboards

Unique Christmas Trees

As you may member from this post, I am allergic to Christmas trees.  A bit sad, perhaps, but I’ve always made due with fake ones and been perfectly content (I mean, I don’t really know any different, so I guess I don’t really know what I’m missing, right?).

Aside from fake yet real-looking ones, I also love other non-traditional types of trees, too.  (I have a fantastic gold metal tree that currently resides at my parents’ house.)

So in the spirit of Charlie Brown, space age metallic trees, and sad little children with evergreen allergies, I thought I would do a round-up of unique, non-living tree alternatives.


{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Fire and Ice}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile

{Source: Not Martha}

A Prequel without All the Gratuitous Special Effects

Consider this post a prequel to Monday’s post, Deck the Walls with Swedish Housewares (that’s the one where I made the advent calendar using a hanging organizer a la Young House Love).

Last weekend, like I often do, I took a trip to Ikea (you may remember this most recent one).  Mostly I just wanted to check out what was new, particularly with the holiday inventory, but I was also looking for A) a unique tree skirt and B) the hanging organizer that I’d had my eye on since I did this DIY advent calendar round-up.

Of course, I ended up doing what I always do with my trips to Ikea and started snapping pics of things that excited me, inspired me, and even appalled me (though mostly the first two).  Well, right away I was inspired and found something pic-worthy:

That’s right, apparently Ikea Brooklyn is a FEMA and Sandy relief center (which makes perfect sense because they have the space, and they are near the heart of a lot of the devastation that occurred).

Very cool, Ikea.  Well done.

But back to housewares….

Instead of starting in the showroom, I decided to take the shortcut to the check-outs because I knew this would be Christmas central.  Oh, and it was…

They had numerous trees, all with different themes or color schemes.  Of course there were plenty of Christmas standards, like red, green, and metallic ball ornaments, but there were also some one-of-kind Ikea finds, like this cool garland:

I’m not really a garland-around-the-tree type of gal, but I liked this stuff.

Here were some cool heart-shaped ornaments, which I bought:

They’re were made of glass, so of course I have plans for some glass etching magic (like I did back in this post).  Stay tuned for that.

And I loved these wicker-ish sort of hearts (they had a slew of other shapes too, which I failed to photograph):

These sampler packs were nice, especially if you’re getting a new tree:

Fun stuff…

And I thought these cones were so clever especially if you married someone with a Christmas tree allergy (you could fill them with Christmas tree scented potpourri and at least you wouldn’t miss out on the scent!).

I’m always a sucker for Ikea wrapping paper — this year was no exception.  They had some of the brown butcher paper-style wrapping paper I got last year.

But they also had some new — or new to me — papers, like these metallic and white stripes.

Yeah, I bought some.  I also bought a roll of this sheet music wrapping paper:

I mean, of course I did.  I nerded out a little when I saw it.

Then I ventured forth into the showroom part of Ikea, where I immediately found my tree skirt: a $9.99 faux fur throw:

I already planned on doing a sort of peacock-inspired, blue and green tree, so the elegance and fun of this throw worked perfectly for my plan.

I thought this table runner was cool (and it had some of my favorite colors):

This huge clock interested me for some reason.

Maybe its size?  Maybe it’s minty green shade?  (I’ve been gravitating towards mint green lately.)

And I always love this green glass lamp…

Going back to mint green, I love these plates….

And the natural fiber chargers beneath them.  So cool.

Oh, and there was a whole room in the “Swedish Rustic” style, and I immediately thought about Josh and his newfound interests in log cabins and tree grafting (no really, tree grafting).

And they had my future tree skirt on display as well…

These prints — that looked like they came out of some turn-of-the-century biology textbook — also spoke to the nerd in me:

Then I passed through the kitchen area, where the same music note pattern from the wrapping paper found its way onto a set of glass tumblers:


Here are some small glass mugs.  I want to put apple cider in them NOW.

And as always, I surveyed my options for future glass etching projects…

And ended up buying these pilsners:

Then on to the textiles department where I found this beige table runner on sale for $4.99.

There’s a painter’s tape project in there somewhere…. I’ll let you know.

And here was the final damage:

Not too bad.  (And of course I enjoyed my $2.50 dinner on my way out.)

Oh, Ikea.  You have my heart.  You always will.  (Especially when you go and do stuff like this):

Anyone else visit the big yellow box lately?  I just learned that the Ikeas in other countries carry different things, including some items that have been discontinued in the states.

This makes me want to go on an Ikea world tour!  Who’s in?!?


DIY Mini Chalkboard

Teaser:  This is going to be a short, non-holiday related post… so brevity-lovin’ Scrooges, this one’s for you.

This past summer, while hangin’ out at the HobLob, I picked up a can of chalkboard spray paint for about four bucks (it was on sale).  At the time, I had no immediate boring-surface-turned-chalkboard plans, but I knew I would eventually think of something.

Well, in all of the holiday decorating hubub, I decided that my very dark entertainment center needed a little pop of color.  I found this amazingly boring frame at the local dollar store:

I took it apart and laid it out on my fire escape (like a typical spray-painting-crazy New Yorker does on a biweekly basis):

Then I sprayed the glass with the chalkboard paint and the frame with some yellow spray paint leftover from this project.  I made a little Berlin Wall with a piece of cardboard in between the two items so the overspray wouldn’t ruin the other item.  (That’s right, I made a peculiar reference to current events of the 1980’s.)

Then I waited.

Then I applied another coat to each piece.

Then I waited a smidge more.

Then I applied the third and final coat… waited twenty four hours… prepared the chalkboard surface with the side of a piece of chalk (per the can’s instructions):

Wiped it away….

Then huzzah!  I had a mini chalkboard!

Oh yeah, then I took a reallly bad picture in its new home, the black entertainment center:

Then another bad picture to give you a better idea of the big picture:

But let’s remember in its slightly better, natural light-lit incarnation:

P.S. — “Joyeux Noel” is how the French say “Merry Christmas.”  (Sorry Scrooges — I broke my promise.)

It’s no huge statement piece, but it provides just the right, extra pop of color I wanted.  And it only took a few minutes (then of course, twenty four hours of waiting), and it cost a dollar plus the little bit of spray paint I used.  (I still have so much left in both cans, it’s hardly worth adding the cost of that because those will both get me through many more spray painting projects.)

Spray painting projects like….

Ok, that wasn’t an actual project… more of a hint.  Now I’ll let your imaginations run away with why I might be doing a Google image search of a triceratops.

Especially since I’ve never mentioned a love of dinosaurs before…

(Ok, well there was that time in Kindergarten I was searching for dinosaur bones in the dirt by the playground and dug up a dirt dauber’s nest then woke up in the school nurse’s office an hour later unsure as to how I got there.  Ya know, like you do.)

See you tomorrow!

Christmas Tree Time

Well, no one could confuse us for Scrooges — Josh and I wasted no time at all decorating for Christmas. We put the event on our calendar. I almost made a countdown, but then thought better of it (and by “thought better of it,” I just mean that I realized it was in fact as crazy as it sounded… #orwasit).
And if we both didn’t have three Thanksgivings to go to as well as working in a restaurant on Black Friday (madness), we would have done it sooner. Alas, that was not possible, but that is what Sunday was for….and the Lord. Right.
Oh! And I forgot the most exciting news of all! We totally got a big kids’ Christmas tree!!!  Remember our sweet little tabletop tree from last year?

We’d also used that the other Christmases we’ve spent together as a married couple (apartment living), but this year we decided it was time to retire it and upgrade to a real tree. (And by “real,” I mean I’m allergic to the real kind, so we have to live with the fake ones. Josh knew this was a condition when marrying me, so he has long since forgiven me. I hope.)
This beaut is seven feet tall, but quite apartment friendly as it is skinny and easily stuffed into a corner.
Here she is, pre- lights and ornaments:

Aaaaand in her bedazzled, Yuletide state:

I’m not the biggest fan of red, so red and green became blue and green.  I especially love these peacock feather inspired ornaments:

Here’s some fun musical ornaments I’ve had for years:

These are some fluffy white heart ornaments I found at Ikea:

They originally had red and white gingham ribbon, and again, red NOT being my thing, I ripped out the original ribbon and sewed on a light green ribbon to tie in with the rest of the ornaments.  I also love how the white fluffiness carries the texture of the tree skirt throughout the tree.

…The tree skirt being this $9.99 white faux fur throw from Ikea:

We just used a chip clip and hid it in the back.  Sexy.

Oh, but the decor doesn’t stop on the tree.  Here’s our entertainment center:

And here’s our end table:

Our bookshelf (complete with one of my favorite ornaments, a redhead bride and brown haired groom — I got it as a gift right before Josh and I got married):

Don’t worry.  That canvas won’t stay blank forever.  I’ve got plans.

And here’s a little martini glass fun with some of my onion shaped ornaments:


Yay!  And it only took four hours and 700 lights.  (No, really.  We had to go out and buy more.)


Ok, your turn.  Share your Christmas decor pics, links, et al.  (Anyone else out there have an aversion to the traditional red and green Christmas decor?)


Deck the Walls with Swedish Housewares (fa la la la la la la la la)

Yeah, in my imagination, you all sang the title of this post, then inserted your own clever lyric changes continuing the Ikea theme that I’ve already established.  No?  OK, then.  But to the point:

I did it!  I made my own advent calendar!

I blogged about it this past Friday in this DIY advent calendar round-up, but I didn’t actually anticipate getting my serious pants on and following through.  Then I somehow ended up at Ikea on Sunday (I randomly had Sunday off), saw the accessories hanger in the home storage section, and remembered this clever advent calendar idea from one of my bloggity blog faves, Young House Love.

I’m not gonna lie… it’s not my most original moment… I just plain ol’ copied the Petersiks’ idea.  However, I did add my own twist so I thought it worthy of sharing with all you fine folk.

I bought the hanger from Ikea for a whopping $7.99 (thank you, Swedes, for your affordable home goods).  Here’s it hanging in the store, completely unaware of its yuletide future:

Lovely, yet… off white.  Not really working with the wall I had planned on attaching to.

I’ve got nothing against off white things, but not directly next to the white moulding on my walls and the pathetically sad off white radiator directly next to the hanger (not pictured).  In between these two things, it just looked dirty.

Solution: I dyed it!  Using acrylic pant, warm water, and a little whisking action, I immersed the hanger in a lime green dye solution for about two hours (one hour for each side).

Here’s the paint I used:

Here’s the dye “vat,” if you will (also know as an out-of-commission trash can):

As with any kind of dyeing done using this method, I knew the color change would be subtle.  The end result was a sort of light celery/celadon shade.  Virtually unnoticeable in pictures, but just enough green-ness in person to strike a difference between the sad, stained radiator and my lovely white moulding.

The plan was to put a different ornament and date tag in each hole (per the YHL idea) then hang a different ornament onto our Christmas tree for each day of the advent season.  However, as the season was winding down, I didn’t just want a plane tag in an otherwise empty hole against a gray wall (not exactly the most Christmas-licious color palate).  So… using a little leftover scrapbook paper, colored cardstock, and even a few pretty notecards that I’ve had for years, I made 25 colorful date tags.

Here’s my assortment of paper:

The pink, green, blue thing wasn’t on purpose; it was just a pattern that sort of emerged… and since I have plenty of pink, green, and blue ornaments, I committed to it.  I used another plain piece of cardstock to make a tag template, then traced around it for each of the 25 tags:

With more than a little tweaking and indecisiveness, I finally settled on a layout:

I attached some leftover adhesive circles — like you see people use for garage sales — and used a curlicue script to number each tag.  Then I hole-punched each one, attached an ornament, then hung the ornament and tag to the hanger with silver paper clips:

There was a lot of tweaking.  A lot of rearranging.  A lot standing with my hands on my hips, crossing my eyes (I do this last one when I’m trying to see the whole picture).

Finally I ended up with this:

It is far from perfect (like this poorly lit, slightly blurry picture), but I fancy it just fine.

Here’s a close-up (and a slightly less blurry picture, at that):

More!  More!

Josh’s comment was: “That’s a lot of pink.  But I still like it.”

(I’m both proud and relieved.)

And since it’s still November, I still have a few days to enjoy it in its complete state.

I’m totally patting myself on the back right now.

(And wishing for a better camera.)

Any one else out there venture into DIY land this weekend?  Advent calendars?  Tree decoratin’?  Dog portraiture?  Share, y’all!

See you tomorrow — hopefully with some Christmas decor pics.

DIY Advent Calendar Time (You Can Do It)

I know, I know, you’re all either spending time with family or shopping or eating turkey leftovers or something equally appropriate.  However, I thought I’d send a little round-up your way (two in one week?), this time: DIY Advent Calendars.

I’ve always enjoyed the advent calendar tradition and have wanted to make my own for quite some time, but I don’t usually resolve to do this until somewhere in the middle of December… when it’s really too late.  So this year: the day after Thanksgiving! (Oh, I’m not playing around this year.)

Here are just a few of my faves from the world wide interwebz.  Not sure which one I’m going with (or my own invention perhaps?), but of course I’ll keep you posted.

As always, I’ve linked and tagged the beejesus out of these ideas — they are not mine — so if you Pin them or link them up elsewhere, please give credit where credit is due (which is not to me).  Karma.  Yay.

Picture 247

{Source: Sweet Paul Blog}

{Source: Young House Love}

advent calendar envelopes

{Source: Quiet Fish}

{Source: Manic Mommies}

{Source: Twig and Thistle}

Little Houses Advent Calendar Tutorial

{Source: Maya Made}

Libatious Pilgrims

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

I’m sure the majority of you are too busy with food or family or dysfunction (or a combination of the three), but I thought I’d share this turkey times related link anyway.  (I share it every year, but in case you missed it, here goes:

Did the Pilgrims Land on Plymouth Rock Because They Ran Out of Beer?  (From The Straight Dope, by Cecil Adams)

Hope that satisfies the history nerd in all of you.  :)

In other news that has nothing to do with pilgrims, beer, or turkey, have I mentioned how thankful I am to have all of you lovely and loyal readers?  Yeah, I am.  Who knows why but you’ve stuck by me – even when I wasn’t posting consistently, when I was nursing a broken computer, and when I was just plain absent from the interwebz.  I think you’re all swell, and I hope you’ll stay with me a little longer.  (I’ve got big plans for this GPP thing, and I want you along for the ride.)  So much bloggity blog love your way!  (Like, indecent amounts.)

So… Good luck if you’re venturing forth into black Friday land tomorrow, PLEASE patronize locals businesses on Small Business Saturday, and I’ll see everyone again Monday (that’s Cyber Monday to all of you penny pinchers out there).

Thanks to the 100th power,