Thursday, March 31, 2011

Surprise in the Air Filter

Today we had an oil change on the Toyota minivan.  The place we go to is where we stay in the car while they change the oil.  One of the mechanics took out the old filter and we heard him say, "What is this stuff?"  He came to our car window and showed us a fistful of dry dog food!  He and two other mechanics took out four to five more handfuls of dry dog food from the air filter housing.  Oh my goodness we were so surprised.  They told us that squirrels or weasels will store their food in auto air intakes and we need to be careful that they don't chew ignition wires and other things.  The mechanic chuckled and said that we should get much better gas mileage now that the air intake is not plugged!

For goodness sake!  We keep our car in the garage which is where our three big dogs eat and sleep.  Here these three big dogs, which chase down rabbits and all types of water fowl, are allowing a weasel or a squirrel to take up residence in our garage and steal their own dog food!  What is up with that? 


By the way, that's my daughter, Evie, holding some of the dog food.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whipped candles

A few days ago there was a post from someone in one of my favorite Yahoo groups.  It was about candles.  It reminded me of a time in my childhood when my mother and I would spend Saturdays making whipped candles as Christmas gifts for friends and family. 

My mother was a crafty person.  She sewed, crocheted, cooked, and did a little bit of everything.  Every Christmas for many years my mother would pick a project and that would become the focus theme for gift making.  For a few years mom got hooked on candle making.  She made her own candles right in our kitchen with an old pan that melted the wax and different wax forms and everything else that was needed.  I loved helping her make them.

Mom also decorated those candles to make them special.  One particular project she got enthralled with was enhancing candles by whipping melted wax and applying it around the candle.

I searched Internet trying to find a photo of how her candles would turn out but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.  I did find two examples that shows whipped candles although the designs are a bit different.  Here they are so you can get an idea of what they look like.

 Mom would get flat wood for the base and then get Christmas decorations such as artificial Christmas flowers, small ornaments, little plastic fuzzy reindeer, spray on snow, etc. and column candles (ones she made at home or ones she bought on sale from the previous after Christmas sales).

On a Saturday we would set the kitchen up for candle production.  We laid everything out and got our designs ready and then we would melt the wax.  When the wax was melted we took a hand egg beater and would whip the daylight out of the wax.  As a child I was always amazed to see a clear melted wax turn into white fluffy "snow". 

While the wax was warm we would take a knife and "ice" the candle.  When all the candles were waxed we started putting our scenes together.  We left the wood base bare since it usually was a piece of wood cut from a large branch or small tree trunk and we wanted it to look natural.

Next, we would glue the candle on one side of the wood and glue the reindeer on the other side.  Then we would decorate it to make it look like an outdoor Christmas scene and the candle was the snowy tree.  A few times we made snowmen out of the candles and those were really cute.

Finally there was one Christmas season that was my mother's last season in candle making.  It was when we were melting wax and we got sidetracked on another project and we caught the kitchen on fire.  Fortunately the fire was contained to the kitchen although the fire department did tell us that the kitchen was a total loss.  My father never got mad at my mother over that.  He just looked at her and shook his head.  My mother announced a few days later that her candle making days were over!

It might be fun to try this project with my own kiddos...except that I'll make sure I wear my FlyLady timer around my neck so I don't get distracted.  That's one part of the project I don't want to repeat!