Friday, January 25, 2019

44 Save Your Scents: How to Make the Most of Your Candles (and use them as storage!)

Candles are one of my favorite ways to add ambiance and warmth to our home. I really appreciate how they can change the entire mood of a space just through scent. What I don't love is wasting my candles, whether it be the wax or the actual vessel that it comes in.

Over the years I have learned to look for candles that are not only delightful in scent, but also come in a pretty jar. The jars they come in can always be upcycled and used as vases or storage around the home. More on that in a minute...

And candles are not always cheap. I try to purchase the majority of my candles inexpensively (Marshalls/HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, Michaels, Tuesday Morning, and Target), but some of my favorite scents are typically found at Anthropologie and local boutiques. I don't mind paying a little more for a really great quality candle, but it is ridiculously frustrating when the wick burns down before all of the wax is used. I might be doing something wrong, but so often the wick will be out and 1/3 of the candle wax is still in the jar!

All of the wax has to come out from the jar before it can be reused. I have tried a few methods to remove the wax over the years and recently heard that freezing the candle was a really quick and easy way to do this. So I gave it a try...

How to remove candle wax from vessel through freezing

It actually worked pretty well! I left a candle in the freezer overnight and just chipped the wax out with a spoon. But look at all that wax! That seems like a lot of waste!

So I went back to the method that I have typically used in the past, which is to heat the candle up on the stove in a pot of water. The water doesn't have to be boiling hot, just warm enough to melt all of the wax within the holder to a liquid (I remove the wick prior to warming up the wax on the stove, but it can be done after as well).

How to remove candle wax from vessel through melting on the stove

Now to save that wax! I recently had four candles leftover from Christmas and quickly realized that there was a lot of wax remaining in each of the containers once the wick burned down completely. I use to just pour the hot wax into the trash and reuse the container... but I decided to come up with a way to stretch that wax out going forward.

Years ago I had a plug-in warmer that would heat wax as an alternative to lighting candles. They were all the rage back then, and I remember having packs of wax molds in different scents stocked in our junk drawer. So off to the craft store I went in search of some sort of mold. In the baking aisle I came across a plethora of silicone options which are typically used for candies and small treats. PERFECT!

(Don't forget that most craft stores offer great coupons/discounts on a single item purchase!)

Now, when I melt the candle wax, I just pour it into my special mold! Below you can see how many wax melts I was able to create from four burned down candles. I can't get over how much wax I was able to save! (Similar mold can also be found on Amazon here.)

It only takes a few minutes for the wax to naturally harden back up, and then they just pop right out of the silicone.

Quick Tip: Pouring the wax out of the different candle holders can be a little messy, I recommend placing wax or parchment paper under the mold to catch any drips. Also, the candle holders can be really hot from the melting process, so use caution!! I found wearing a winter glove gave me control to pour without burning my fingers.

Right after the wax is poured, I grab a paper towel to clean out the rest of the contents of the jar and quickly wash with hot water and dish soap.

The different candles were a variety of scents so I store the wax molds seperately in canning jars, back into their original vessel, or in these wax sandwich pouches until I am ready to melt them in the warmer.

I noticed that they still sell plug-in candle/wax warmers at many home and craft stores, although, I prefer something a bit more discreet and mobile, so I just use a basic butter warmer for now. It was less expensive and I can move it around my home without plugging it in. It may seem like a bit of an odd choice, but I sort of love it. And YAY for extending the life of my favorite candles scents, I can't believe I was going to dump all of that wax away!

Now that the wax is out of the holders, here are a variety of ways to reuse all of those pretty vessels around the house.

Above I placed two on our bookshelves! One is working as a vase while the other tucks away a dice game that our family enjoys playing.

Quick Tip: This gold hammered candle is a true bargain, especially considering the container itself is so fantastic (especially if you line the bottom with a piece of felt). 

I find candle holders are most useful in the bathroom. Above you can see one being used for holding cotton swabs, but they also work as toothbrush holders, floss pick holders, hairbrush and comb holders, etc...

Another bathroom scenario, hair ties and bobby pins are hidden away while keeping the nearby counter clutter free!

One of the first candle holders that I ever upcycled was used for makeup brushes, and they were the perfect match!

Let's talk office supply storage for a second! Candle vessels are perfect for corralling paperclips, rubber bands, washi tape, small craft supplies, pushpins, charger cords... The possibilities are pretty endless.

It is always a bonus when the holder has a nice lid to really hide the contents and to act as a true container.

In the bedroom on a nightstand or dresser, candle jars are wonderful as a change jar or jewelry holder. Or toss your lip balm, medication, hand lotion, earplugs, etc... inside and keep your bedside table nice and tidy.

How about in the laundry room? They work well to keep track of pocket treasures, clothespins, safety pins, and buttons.


That's how I use these charming candle vessels around our home, but I bet you all could come up with even more creative examples. I know that this isn't a new fad, but it's always a great reminder to upcycle and reuse when we can.

One last quick thing! I recently found these candle warmers, but can't personally speak to how well they work. I imagine that they actually melt the wax of a candle more evenly and allow you to use the entire candle without lighting the wick at all (or needing to make molds). That would definitely be another great way to get the most of the candle before reusing the jar. Just wanted to try and offer up all of the options I can find.

And it goes without saying but I will anyway, it is always important to be careful with candles in general. Both plug-in options and the use of any flame should always remain monitored. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

22 An Organized Gifting Caddy

First, THANK YOU! I sincerely appreciate all of your encouraging comments on my last post, as well as the abundance of emails and messages I received. This community really amazes me, and I adore that we all bond over a passion for our homes and organization! It sounds like many of you are on a quest to simplify and reduce home clutter with me this year, which keeps me awake at night with excitement! Let's do this 2019!

I have always been a bit of a sentimentalist, and I really love giving gifts to friends and family throughout the year. Just as much as I find joy in the process of looking for something thoughtful to give, I also really enjoy the process of wrapping it all up! I have absolutely nothing against a gift box or bag, but sometimes it just feels a little more special to add a ribbon, embellishment, a handwritten note, an ornament, monogrammed tag, etc... And those extra touches don't have to take much time, but they really go along way.

Five years ago I put together the ultimate gift wrapping station. It had extra of everything from twine, bows, bags, boxes, tissue and quite a few rolls of gift wrap. It was epic and went viral and I don't regret the project for a second. It served me quite well over the years, and it has taken me a long time to work my way through a lot of the supplies and cards. But it was a bit much. And over the years as the nearby counter became cluttered with toys and Lego builds, I would gather my supplies and take them to my office or the kitchen table to do my wrapping. In my quest to reduce and simplify this year, I decided that it was time to downsize this part of my life in a way that takes up less space and offers some portability.

I actually put all of this together last month before Christmas, and it couldn't have worked out better. And because I can still use it year-round for anniversaries, birthdays, and just-because days, I decided I would share the tote-tastic idea with you!

I began with the large KUGGIS bin found at IKEA. I have used smaller versions of these bins and I absolutely LOVE them. They really have become one of my "go-to" storage items as of late. However, this is my first time using this particular size, and I was ridiculously eager to try out the addition of the divided organizing tray that tucks away nicely inside.

The top tray is really great for smaller embellishments and cards. It can also fit a smaller address book (if you are old-school like me and still use one of those during the holidays).

If I am at a stationery store and spot a nice greeting card, I pick them up so I can be prepared ahead of time for special dates or for those celebrations that come up last minute. The larger areas of the tray are a really wonderful size to fit all of those greeting cards, thank you notes and envelopes.

I also like to add tags, ornaments, bows, etc... and the smaller divided areas are a nice way to divide out the tapes, twine, and gift toppers. I also keep a few gift cards on hand to hand out randomly when the mood strikes (I just put a small amount on each and will give them to strangers or kind employees as a random act of kindness).

There is more magic happening below the tray, which is completely removable.

The nice thing about this bin is the amount of space/storage to keep everything all together. The base of the bin is a nice size for gift bags, boxes and larger sheets of tissue. I found some food storage containers at the dollar store to add a little extra division for the bows, tissue and smaller ribbon spools. They are light-weight and inexpensive and couldn't have worked out better.

I used a small tension rod for my larger spools of ribbon, placed at the outer edge of the bin. It is easy to be removed if I need to swap out a roll but stays in place for grabbing a quick bit to add to a package.

I use a small piece of masking/painters tape on each spool to keep the ribbon from loosening inside of the bin in-between uses.

Above you can see the entire bin in action and how everything stacks in a compact and portable tote.

I have also really condensed my gift wrap rolls down; I find it best to actually only purchase solid craft, black or a simple stripe/dot gift wrap that can be versatile year round. That allows the ribbon and toppers to shine and also keeps the number of rolls that I have to store to a minimum. I currently just keep them in a corner of my office closet until I can finish up with a little refresh of that space in the near future.

I also looked into an under-bed bin that would allow me to store the rolls and cards/embellishments together, however, our bed frame doesn't allow for most of those bin sizes. But they are another great option for doing something similar. Here are a couple of those options:

I was able to condense my large bookcase of packaging and gift wrap items down into a mobile gift wrap station and it couldn't have worked better this past Christmas.

Also, I am totally sold on the amount of storage and functionality this KUGGIS bin offers! I have also seen the tray insert used inside of a drawer as a divider for tech and office gear and it was brilliant. So tell me, have you tried these bins and if so, how do you put them to use around your home?