Friday, October 14, 2016

A couple of my favorite life hacks...

I love things that make life easier, use resources better, and generally help a girl out, so today I am sharing just a few of my favorite hacks, plus a little cuteness.  It's stormy outside, here in the Pacific Northwest and I am thoroughly enjoying the cozy indoors as I write this. 

My first hack originally came from my friend Lissa, who blogs here.  Over the last year, it has quickly become one of my very favorite and useful life hacks and I've used it repeatedly!  You know how you purchase a really great scented candle, only to burn it down and toss it out with a rim of unused wax all over the inside when it's all over? Doesn't that seem so wasteful?  The idea is: purchase a few wicks from a craft store and then when your candle is finished, pluck the remaining original wick from the bottom, put the candle into a pot of water, melt the wax back down, then pop your new wick in, let it harden, and voila, new candle!

 I love the Volcano scented candles at Anthropologie.  (I may actually be a little obsessive about these candles.) They are far and away my all time favorite scent.  But their candles are so pricey.  My husband bought me a nice big one last year, and I think it was about $25-30.  Well, I want that baby to last as long as possible and be as responsible as I can with a splurge purchase like that!  I've melted the wax down once before and used the same big candle holder with a new wick, but this morning I went for round two if you can believe that.  I still had enough leftover melted wax to fill two entirely new candle holders!

My personal tip- put a small amount of melted wax into the bottom of your vessel and let that harden around the new wick.  I use a chopstick to hold it in place.  Once the wax at the bottom is hardened, you can add the remaining melted wax to fill it.  The wick wont move on you at that point.
  Tip #2- don't move them.  Just let them come to room temp.  I've made this one expensive candle last a whole year and I still have two brand new candles out of it as of this afternoon.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving.


 
Okay next life hack. This isn't original either but I personally love it, as a busy mom of teens.  I want to feed my kids well, I want to spend minimal amount of time doing it and I want to move on to the next thing the night holds.  It's a tall order but I believe it can be done!

Boxed soups.  One evening I was rushing, I had two boxes of trader joe's butternut squash soups in the pantry.  I pulled them out and started thinking.  My boys are super into having meat.  So I knew I had to add meat somehow!  Boys! I quickly cooked a package of mild Italian sausage, drained it and added into the soup, then I doctored the rest of it with spices.  I added a handful of chopped fresh sage, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp each of cumin and tumeric.  You can add more or less to taste.  This soup was so good.  So fall-flavorful and took less than ten minutes.  I served them all bread on the side and they want it again so I consider it a win.
 I took the rest of the fresh sage and hung it upside down to dry.  I'll use that through the winter, so nothing wasted. 
 This is a general fun life hack for those dark and dreary days.  Take a battery-powered light string and drop it into any glass vessel.  Even better if it's got a self timer and can come on at the same time each day. (I haven't gotten one with a clear battery pack so you can see it at the bottom.  If you've got a great tip for hiding these please share in comments.  I went so far as to fill the bottom with sand, rip the guts out of a battery powered candle and tuck the battery pack up inside the candle.  I wasn't a huge fan of that look and I like less fuss so it's just like this for now and I'm okay with that because the lights are so fun.  The glass pumpkin is $8 at Target right now.)
 This is one of my most often used ones.  I frequently need to do a quick touch up to my kitchen cabinets or trim, because I swear I live with children who are actually little bulls in a china closet. Ha! One day, I poured a bit of paint into a mason jar, and used a rubber band to attach the tiny artist brush I often use.  It's been so handy for quick dings and scratches, and I keep it in my laundry room so the paint is always at room temp and nearby!
 And now for some pretty.  My friend Kim, showed up to bible study with a platter of these little white pumpkins.  (She hollowed them out, added some soil and succulents and they are tiny perfection!)  The whole platter was adorable and I think these would be the cutest place card holders for a fall table.  Or a long row of them could be a great centerpiece.  She said after the pumpkin rots, move the succulents into another container.  Awesome.
Finally, I just added this wintry print to my shop for purchase. (I know it's a bit early but y'all are all buying up the Christmas tree-topped vintage camper watercolor and several other Holiday prints so I can get away with adding this, right?) (wink)

Are there any fun life hacks you can't live without?  It would be so fun to read about yours in comments!  


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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Talks

It's a gray Tuesday morning over here in the Brodeur household and I've had to cancel today's plans to be home with a sick teenager.  While he's resting I decided to get a little blog post up, reflecting on the past weekend.  We experienced our first Homecoming and it was delightful.  Joe went with such a great group of good kids. From the sounds of it, they had a wonderful and safe time of dinner, dancing and a small after party at a friend's local dance studio where they had Italian sodas, snacks and more dancing while tired parents waited... Ha! 

I won't lie, it was super emotional for me which took me completely by surprise.  My baby!  A freshman... at his first school dance!  Waaaaaaaaaa!   I loved this shot.... there were two huge rocks where all our kids were arriving for photos before hand.  They were the perfect resting spot for all the corsage boxes.  Both of the rocks were covered with these boxes at the end and I thought it was adorable.

I wish I could show more photos but alas, they involved many other kids and I didn't ask any permission from parents.  Joe looked crazy handsome!  And a few musings about homecoming dances.  1) When did asking a girl take on more pressure for originality than asking a grown woman to marry you?  Seriously. (Also this could be an entire blog post but I'll refrain.) 2) The social scene is already heating up for my boy for Tolo, with these hoards of girls already feeling him out about his plans... Homecoming photos haven't even been printed yet.  Wowza.  I can't believe we're at this stage.  How did this happen?  And Junior girls too!  What?  3) Boys are super easy to prepare for a dance.  Deodorant and how to tie a tie. Boom!


 Speaking of plans. (This is where I admit my freakish nature out loud, unapologetically.) Do any of you have a notebook where you make lists (many lists) really far ahead of time so that you can keep all of life straight?  Because I do.  I jot down notes and reminders about all kinds of future events, plans, holidays, etc, and it keeps me really organized as the season goes along.  I've always been like this so it's rather normal in my mind... even if there are those who like to tease me about having my thanksgiving menu already planned out.  (You know who you are!) And yes.  Yes I do have it totally planned out.  How is that wrong? (My people gave me full license to change it up this year and I may have taken it and ran with it one night, while all alone with Pinterest and my Camille Styles entertaining book.  Just saying.)  This is the only way I never forget anything.  Otherwise... I would forget my own name. 



I've been mulling over various ideas for a thanksgiving table centerpiece ever since, and I'm going a little nuts for mixed metals right now.  I went to Goodwill last weekend hoping to find an inexpensive silver bowl and some old brass candlesticks.  I was doing a happy dance when I did find two perfect bowls and three brass candlesticks!  (I think I'll go back and hunt for three more since I have two months (I know) but even if I don't find any more with the right shapes and heights, these are good. I plan to put some gray tapers in them and though I'm not sure what flower arrangement I'll create, I'm practicing making some and enjoying them right now, as my seasonal flowers and foliage changes.

 I filled a silver bowl with wet floral foam, and then walked around my yard plucking faded plum-colored hydrangeas, unturned maple branches, dusty miller, and the last of my pink dahlias.  All together, they made something rather pretty. 

If you made fun of me in your head because of the list making... all kidding aside, it was survival for me.  Because of life circumstances I've shared in the past, I haven't been feeling it. My kids aren't used to me putting a pumpkin on the table and joking about being all decorated for fall.  (I think it concerned my daughter at one point.)  I will admit this to you with my eyes averted- I even momentarily considered not having a Christmas tree this year. I know. Just smack me please!  It seemed rather pointless at the time the thought crossed my mind because well... life details seemed way bigger than having a tree.  At least I got my act back together and realized that my kids life is being rocked alongside mine and I've got to keep some stable traditions intact for their sake, regardless how I'm feeling or not feeling because of how things are changing. Hence the notebook and drumming up of plans and ideas months in advance.  We all need a little something to cling to and cheer us on sometimes, don't we? 

(But if I ever lose that notebook we're all in trouble.)
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Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


 Just on the off chance you're like me and already thinking of your Thanksgiving table... I wanted to once again share these beautiful place mats.  They would obviously work year-round, but especially during the holidays! Click here to view them at Ever Thine Home.