November 23rd, 2011
just returned from the backwoods of Canada

…where I was on an expedition searching for polar bears.

actually that’s not true.

but we did have a run-in with a very old one-eyed porcupine who blocked our path as we were hiking through the woods. he reared up on his hind legs and all his quills in the air giving us a menacing warning. his one good eye fierce and unwelcoming. we stopped in our tracks not wanting to disturb him as he slowly munched on his pine needle dinner.

true story. except maybe for the menacing part. he was pretty damn cute.

the backwoods of Canada have soothed my soul yet again and I would have spent the whole winter there if I did not have work to attend to. We had very limited wifi access, which I quite enjoyed as it made me much more present in the world, but did make it hard to get some work done. The heavy snow had not yet hit, actually we only had a couple of days with any snow at all, so I was not able to don my snowshoes. And I only got one night with the wood stove fired up, as it was not so cold as to require it. When I lived there full time some days it was an adventure just going out to get the mail. I smile now thinking about telling my, now present, then future husband from California, “It’s not that cold here”, (I was comparing it to Northern Northern Canada, like Timmins or North Bay). It’s all relative really. Six feet of snow and minus 15 degrees seemed normal to me at the time. I have since experienced his version of normal having lived in Davis California for a year a few years ago, where it was 110 degrees on average in the summer and summer lasted until December. Quite a difference.

We have decided to do some non-commercial Xmas rituals for our family, which I will write about a bit more here in the weeks to come (I think). Time is so limited with two little ones. So our first idea is to have a candle lighting ceremony on Xmas eve. So I am off to research making our own candles today, something I have not done before.

If you have any leads let me know.

Nov 23 2011
11:06 pm
JennySmith writes:

Glad to hear you are back! I had a phase that I went through where I made candles by rolling flat beeswax sheets around a wick. I used to give them as gifts to friends. Your son could probably do that himself. Talk soon, xo

Nov 24 2011
12:38 am
Andrea writes:

If you look at a map of Ontario, what they commonly call Northern Ontario isn’t very far north.

Nov 24 2011
12:51 am
Zann Carter writes:

One candle-making activity that is easy to do with kids is to make rolled beeswax candles. There is a kit here:http://www.achildsdream.com/celebrations/candle_light/candle_crafts.htm

My children are grown now, but we had the loveliest holiday season when we began a tradition of observing Advent – throughout the month before Christmas, we gathered in the evenings, lit candles, read a story and had a treat. We observed St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) when the children got little treats, special ornaments, small toys left in their shoes overnight.

It took all the intense focus off the one Christmas Day, and there wasn’t that holiday let-down because we continued little get-togethers right to Three King’s Day. (Our Wise Men traveled the room and arrived at our little Nativity scene then.)

As I said, my children are grown, but I am having some of these Advent observances with a granddaughter now. Bliss :-)

Nov 25 2011
4:27 am
andy writes:

i would like to consider myself a female artistic engineer – which by definition requires you to teach children at a summer camp how to tie-dye, make leather bracelets and sure enough candles.

my love of making candles and slight pro-like qualities may be able to help you out.

this is how we made candles…

first you can buy white wax from any basic craft store. to add color, there are separate small cubes of color that you can buy (red, blue, yellow) and add as you go to make the hues that you so desire.

we put the wax into tin cans and melted them in a large, but old, crock pot full of water. it took around an hour, at 400 degrees fahrenheit to melt. (around a coffee container full of wax)

after this..we used two different methods:

1. we bought a spool of wick and cut them into six to eight inch pieces. you can tie a knot at the end to make sure the candle doesn’t fall off. and use clothes pins to hold the wick. the key is to have a tin full of cold water near by. you place the wick in the wax for one second, and then place in the water for at least three seconds to make sure it hardens, then you repeat. once it’s cool you can shape the wick into whatever you want.

2. another way we did it is by using soap molds. you can literally poor the wax into the molds, stick a wick in it and let it cool. or, one time we used pop cans to poor the wax in!

the cool thing is you can add scents to the candles (we used soap scents) or even put in things like pressed flowers for decoration. you can really do a lot with them.

i love making candles. i think you’ve re-kindled (pun completely intended) a passion of mine and i may make some for christmas presents. oh how i love crafts.

good luck and happy crafting !

peace.love.candlesaremylife.

p.s. i hope you don’t mind that i used you as my celebrity of choice for an art project i just completed. lets just say it is best that i don’t reveal the assignment.

Nov 25 2011
9:01 am
May writes:

It is lovely to make your own candles, I started with that a few weeks ago. I have found that bubble-blower cases (Ehm… not sure if that’s the right term, forgive me, english is not my native tongue) make perfect moulds, and you’re recycling too!

Nov 28 2011
5:59 pm
Brittany writes:

i’ve never gone snow-shoeing. i want to so bad. i’ve got to say though, i’d take california in a heartbeat. :)
hope all is well with you and your babes!

Dec 5 2011
11:13 pm
Caroline Wickham writes:

Hey there ‘North Shore’ resident.. (yup, I’m out here now, too!),
Coincidently, recently inspired to make candles myself. Saw a sweet idea – small, too, a bonus!
~ using new or second-hand egg cups
~ buy wicks at Michael’s
~ beeswax same place
~ warm beeswax in a small pot on the stove (not the microwave)… I like a pot with a spout for pouring.
~ gently pour hot wax into the egg cups which have the wicks already set in them …(the wicks are waxed + stiff, so keeping them steady should not be a problem).
That’s it!

Dec 6 2011
10:47 am
Debs writes:

just found your site by accident looking for something on wiki….plan to read it more…for now I wanted to share that I recently watched a PBS special which you can find on PBS free to watch, just under an hour, fascinating and unexpected, a man who gives up his life to imprint/rear some wild turkey eggs…sounds weird but please know for some reason I think you’d love it, a real adventure in learning, My Life As a Turkey, not sure how old your ‘little ones’ are but my son’s around 4-5 would have been mesmerized, chao

Dec 13 2011
5:46 pm
Ashwini writes:

My new year resolution is not to visit your blog until next jan. because u hardly write anymore and I really like your writing. I don’t want to be disappointed each time I visit ur blog. Thanks and goodbye

Dec 20 2011
8:19 am
Marjolein writes:

… or: gather old stumps of leftover candles, put them all in a pan on the stove and melt them, sift out the non candle stuf (like old pieces of wick) than pour the warm liquid candle-stuf in either selfmade forms (i.e. ricepaper rolls, aluminium foil rolls (vessels) or small empty (and cleaned) tin cans (I think these are best) and before it clots hang in a piece of cotton string for new wicks.
Never did it myself but I used to have a frend who dit it that way. Colors may vary and sometimes be very surprising (depending on the colors of the stumps).

Jan 4 2012
6:00 pm
gerrygerr writes:

thanx for a great book, really enjoying it. really really good, well done. i am inspired!

 
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