Birthday season is upon us, at least here in our family; seems like we’re celebrating a birthday every week through May and June. So birthday projects are on my mind. Last year when I was making rolled beeswax candles for our advent holders, I thought it would be fun to try making some tiny ones for birthday candles (Caitlin shared a DIY for how to make your own rolled beeswax candles here). Then I read an article about hand-dipped candles and wanted to try that – and that brings us to today’s DIY!I had so much fun making these, and once I got my method down, it was pretty simple & easy. I first tried making these with a washer attached to the bottom of the wick to add some weight to keep the wick straighter, but found that just made the process longer and more difficult. I also tried hanging a few from a dowel and dipping them together (with the washer attached on those), and found that made it more difficult as well. Just dipping one at a time, and using my fingers to straighten the wick was the fastest and easiest method for me. Of course you can just pick up a package of already made candles for a few dollars which is the easiest (ha!), but I love the challenge of trying to do something myself and the slightly imperfect look to homemade ones. Plus I’m on a kick with using beeswax for projects right now!Materials:

beeswax pellets
wick
– scissors
– tin cans (or any old container that can sit in boiling water)
– water
Directions: Pour beeswax pellets into a tin can (the can should be a little taller than you’d like your candles to be, tall and narrow cans work best). Set can in a small saucepan of simmering water and let wax melt. Once the wax has melted, make sure it’s the height you’ll want your candles to be (add more pellets and let them melt if needed). You can remove the can from the saucepan and keep it in a bowl of hot water or just keep it in the saucepan of warm water during the next step.
Fill another can with cold water and set the two cans together. Take a piece of wick (I just used a really long piece and cut it to size after the candles were dipped) and dip it into the wax, letting it sit for just a second or two. Remove it, let cool for a second and then straighten the wick as much as you can – yes it will be warm, but shouldn’t be burning hot, and yes, you’ll get some wax on your fingers. Once it’s straight, dip it back into the wax for a couple seconds, remove and dip it into the water for a couple seconds. Straighten the wick again. At this point, the wick should be fairly straight and you can just keep dipping into the wax and then the water without needing to straighten the wick anymore.
Repeat the process until the candle is as thick as you’d like. Trim the wick and set on wax paper to completely cool.Once you’ve got your candles made, you can make this cake to put them in, this cake stand for your cake, this candle display for extra candles and this garland for decor – ready to party! 😉

-Manda

  • Friday, May 19, 2017 - 9:03 pm

    Ivory - As always, fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Monday, May 22, 2017 - 3:52 am

    Julia - what a lovely and cute diy! would be so awesome to have homemade candles on birthday cakes, thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

    • Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 7:48 pm

      Manda - So glad you like the idea! We’re having fun using them here! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 5:03 am

    Karen Compton - Great, making candles for birthday is a great idea, thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

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While waiting for it to stay consistently warm, I’ve been out in the yard digging up tons of weeds all while not-so-patiently waiting for the peonies and wisteria to bloom!! So after lots of late freezes and just chilly days in general, I’ve finally been working on prepping the veggie garden! My next step was to get my raised garden bed set up in an area of the yard with lots of sunlight. I put together a pretty basic frame because it’s way back in the yard and honestly it’s just supposed to hold dirt together, right?! I’m so excited for the next steps and seeing what veggies actually grow! Below there is a tutorial on how to put together a raised garden bed and then after that I’m talking about the next steps/updates from our first gardening post! So you can pass over that if you’re not interested in gardening or just stick around to see pictures of me planting a sweet little lavender plant! Ever since we went on our California trip and visited Carmel Valley Ranch, I’ve needed my own lavender plant – dreams coming true, friends! 😉What you need:
-Three 8′ pieces of untreated wood
-Saw
Corner Braces
-Drill
-Cute gardening gloves to inspire you to get to work…

How to make it:
-Take one of the 8′ boards, measure to the center and cut in half into two pieces.
-Secure boards together using corner braces on the inside of each corner. I added one corner brace to the middle of each inside corner and brackets on the top and bottom of each outside corner.
-Fill with nutrient rich soil and compost. Don’t pack down the soil too tight!
Next steps:
-I’m starting to transition the seeds that I’ve been growing indoors to the outdoors before planting them in the garden. So I’m bringing them outside in the morning and then bringing them back in before the afternoon light is too intense for them. At the end of the week, I’ll transfer them to the garden.

-I’m planting the carrot seeds, rhubarb, asparagus, and garlic directly into the new garden bed as well as the sweet potatoes that started sprouting in the water.

-I couldn’t get my rosemary or lavender to grow so I bought some organic plants and planted them in the separate herb garden that I dug out.
xo. Caitlin

  • Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 12:56 pm

    Mary - Hi, Can I plant corn in this GARDEN BED?ReplyCancel

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I have been indulging in way too many chai lattes, iced teas, and just sweet drinks in general lately – normally I’m just a water all day type of person. I’m trying (barely) to cut back a bit, but with our floral shower party ideas, I thought it would be fun to make a recipe for a floral tea latte to share with some edible flowers as a garnish to tie your whole party together! And then I just happennn to have ingredients on hand to make these for myself… 😉 Below I’m sharing how to make a large batch that you could use for an event but I’ll break it down so you can just whip up a glass for yourself!Ingredients:
-5 hibiscus tea bags (I tried both this and this.)
-5 cups water
-3 tbsp sugar
-2 1/2 cups milk
-Ice

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Steep tea bags in water for 5 minutes. While it is still hot, add sugar and mix in to dissolve. Remove tea bags and cool tea in fridge. (You can mix with ice and serve immediately, it will just be more watered down.) Once it has cooled, add milk and ice and serve immediately. Top off with frothed milk & edible flower if desired.

For a single serve – 1 tea bag, 1 cup water, sugar to taste (about 1/2 tbsp), 1/2 cup milk, ice.
xo. Caitlin

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 1:31 pm

    Phyusin Myint - Can you please please share where you got the glassware.ReplyCancel

    • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 11:45 pm

      Caitlin McGrath - They’re Bormioli Rocco from West Elm! You can find them here.ReplyCancel

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Sticking with our floral party theme we’ve had going for the past couple weeks, we’ve got some natural floral confetti coming at ya today! If you’re going to have florals all over your party or wedding, you’ve got to have some flower petals to toss up in the air in excitement! Or to have guests throw at you so you can be dusted in colorful petals – how much more magical can confetti get?! We made fresh floral confetti pouches that you can whip up in no time and give out to guests.What you need:
Pouches
Stamp
Ink pad that works on fabric
-Flower petals
How to make it:
-Stamp bags and let dry completely.
-Fill with floral petals.
*You can purchase petals, try dried petals, or buy bundles of flowers with small petals and tear petals off. We left our petals in the bags for three days to see how they would hold up and they all held up very well!
Now go grab some flowers and find a reason to throw confetti!

  • Monday, May 15, 2017 - 7:30 am

    Ci-san - It’s a great idea. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Friday, May 19, 2017 - 8:27 am

    Lisa - This is lovely! At my cousin’s wedding the confetti was bits of lavender which worked really well. And it’s bio-degradable so you don’t have to worry about mess if done outside. Bonus!ReplyCancel

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Confession: I’m intimidated by bread dough recipes. I feel like I never know if I’ve kneaded the dough long enough and then recipes always say to let the dough rise until double in size and mine never quite seems to do that. So the whole time I’m making recipes with a homemade dough, I’m constantly second guessing myself. But I’m determined to get this down! My mom and my aunt both make amazing bread, and I really want to be able to, so I’m declaring this is my year to tackle more dough recipes! Thankfully, this cinnamon roll recipe seems to be very forgiving, because I’ve been making it for years, and even with my inexperience, they always turn out. So for anyone else thinking they don’t want to try recipes like this because of “dough intimidation”, this recipe might be the one to try out. (I also have really good luck with the soft pretzel recipe, so that might be another one to add to your list). My knead time has varied, my dough doesn’t always quite double in size, but they still always turn out! And yes, waiting for dough to rise does take a while, and this recipe even has two rises, but it’s so worth the wait (just be sure you’re planning that into your timing).These rolls are simply the best; and not just because they turn out well even when I mess up the knead or rise time. They’re huge, soft, with a gooey cinnamon-y filling, and topped with lots of delicious icing! They’re supposed to be similar to a Cinnabon, and I think they are, although it’s been ages since I’ve had one of those. I decided a few years back that our Christmas morning breakfast would be cinnamon rolls and bacon. Just those two things. It’s an idea I stole from my midwife, she told me that it’s their Christmas morning tradition and I loved it and have been doing it ever since in our house. I’m pretty sure I’m the most excited about this, so it’s kind of like a Christmas present to myself! But these are also the kind of rolls you’d like served to you in bed, say on Mother’s Day (hint, hint…I don’t know who I’m hinting to, my husband nor my boys read this. Nor do they bake. My best bet for getting this is to make them myself on Saturday and wait to be served – ha!). But these rolls are for sure a must try!Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Dough

1 package (7g) rapid rise instant yeast
1 cup milk, warmed (at approximately 110 degrees for those that need it exact)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour

In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, stir together all ingredients on medium speed, just until combined. Mix on low speed for 4-6 minutes (to knead the dough) until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Lightly grease and flour a large bowl. Put dough ball in bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour or until dough has almost doubled in size.

Remove from bowl and roll out on a floured surface, until dough is about 1/4” thick and forms a rectangle about 22”x18” in size.

Filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon until combined. Spread softened butter over rolled out dough, leaving about 1/2” border around edges. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over butter.

Roll up dough, starting from the 22” side, making sure to keep the roll tight (try not to lose any filling out the edges!). Slice roll into 12 pieces using sharp knife.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place cut rolls on baking sheet, about two inches apart with the seam side facing in.

Cover with a light weight towel and let rolls rise for an hour in a warm place. They should double in size.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. While it’s preheating, make frosting.

Frosting:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cup powdered sugar

Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth & creamy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, mix on low speed until combined, then on medium high speed for about 3 minutes or until light & fluffy.

Bake rolls for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool on pan for about 10 minutes.

Frost rolls & enjoy! If there’s any left, store at room temp in an airtight container.

-Manda

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  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 1:58 pm

    Amy - Cinnamon rolls were always our Christmas morning tradition when I was a kid too! They are good all year round, but they really always scream Christmas to me because of that 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 8:23 pm

      Manda - Yes, that’s what I’m hoping happens for my kiddos! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 4:22 pm

    Cera - Can you believe I still make the bisquick cinnamon rolls we learned in 7th grade home ec? I may have to up my game. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 5:21 pm

      Manda - Ha – that is amazing! I can’t even remember those! I still have my stuffed animal monkey I made in home ec. And I remember I made a pair of looney tunes boxers I made. 😂ReplyCancel

  • Friday, May 12, 2017 - 6:10 am

    Indya | TheSmallAdventurer - Dough is terrifying stuff to work with, but I’d also love to be able to get it right. Doughnuts are my favourite treat in the world, but I still haven’t tried to make them just because I think making the dough is going to be a disaster.

    Practise makes perfect though, and I would love to be able to make a batch of doughnuts or a loaf of bread and not even have to bat an eyelid at the thought of it. Here’s to not giving up, and achieving our goals!

    http://www.thesmalladventurer.blogspot.com.au/ReplyCancel

    • Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 9:56 pm

      Manda - Yes – that’s exactly how I feel! I’m hoping by the end of the year I have at least one recipe for a loaf of bread that I feel totally confident with!ReplyCancel

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