How to Make Your Own Icicle Candle Holder

IMAG0160This Christmas, I did something I have never done before. I embarked on a mission to create homemade Christmas presents from scratch. If, like me, you enjoy doing creative things but lack the patience to ever produce anything above sub-standard, you will understand my apprehension.

However, I’d had an idea stuck in my head for a while – something so gloriously simple, even I might be able to pull it off: decorated tea light holders.

At first, I planned to attempt painting jars in a Moroccan tea light style. However, the prospect of actually having to paint twelve jars freehand and have them looking marginally appealing by the end of it – all in time for Christmas – planted some doubts. (The idea does look fab though, if you have a little more time.)

I then came across a much simpler idea: Icicle Jars. Credit goes to the original instructable post for the design, but I have laid out some more detailed steps of my own below, if you fancy giving it a go!

How to Make Your Own Icicle Candle Holder

These Icicle Candle Holders are perfect to make for a bit of lazy day fun (especially while it’s so frosty outside) and look pretty cosy on a cold winter’s night. Great for presents or as a little treat just for you. Would look just as good at a summery BBQ.

What you will need:IMAG0301_1
  • Any type of jar, so long as you can plop a lit candle into it.
  • Matt Mod Podge (You can buy this from most good craft shops.)
  • Clear or white Glitter
  • Clean sponge
  • A saucer or tub to pour your glue into (I found this easier than sticking the sponge in the pot)
  • Wire
  • Scissors or wire cutters
  • Tweezers (or something to bend wire with)
  • Candle of choice
  • Charm(s) and a small jump ring to attach them to the wire (optional – and again, available in most good craft shops)
  • Some twine or ribbon to decorate the top and/or cover the wire (optional)
Before you start!

If you are using a jar from around the house, you may need to remove the label. Soak the jar in hot, soapy water and scrub the label off. If soaking hasn’t done the job, try filling the jar with water and popping it in the microwave until the water bubbles. Once the water is hot enough, carefully remove the jar from the microwave – be careful of the hot water inside! You should now be able to scrub off the glue residue with a sponge.

IMAG0315IMAG0314Step 1

Dampen a clean sponge slightly, and apply the matt Mod Podge to half of your jar using a dappling technique. It is important to only do half at this point, so that the Mod Podge doesn’t dry too quickly.

Step 2

Sprinkle your glitter evenly over the wet Mod Podge. I found it best just to use my fingers to sprinkle a thick coat over the jar, removing any excess by blowing on it.

Step 3

Repeat the same steps over the other half of the jar.

Step 4

Allow the jar to dry completely. This should take around 20 minutes, depending on how thickly you have spread the Mod Podge.

Step 5

Add another layer of just the Mod Podge to seal the jar. Don’t add any glitter this time! Allow the jar to dry completely again. If you don’t want to add a charm, then you are done! If not, read on to Step 6.

IMAG0324Step 6

If you are adding a charm, measure out enough wire to wrap around the neck of the jar, with enough extra length (a few inches) to attach your chosen charm .

Step 7

Hook a small jump ring onto your charm (you may need to use tweezers to close it) and slide the charm to the middle of the wire. Now, twist the section of wire your charm is attached to into a small loop.

Holding the top of the loop tight, twist the wire some more, until the loop is at the length you would like.

Step 8

Next, fix the wire around the neck of the jar, twisting it securely. If the wire is too long, snip off a bit of the length, then tuck the remaining twists in behind. Tweezers are useIMAG0091ful at this point!

Step 9

Wrap your twine or ribbon over the neck of the jar. If you have added a charm, try and cover the wire with your chosen material. Twine can be pulled quite tightly, so make sure you use the length of it to its maximum potential. Tie in a bow or a discrete knot.

***

You have finished! Now all that’s left to do is pop a candle in your new Icicle Candle Holder and enjoy. Brrrr.

Note: Candles with white wax are best. If coloured wax spills in your icicle jar it is clearly visible and can be tricky to remove.

Special thanks to Exeter’s wonderful craft shop, Bunyip Beads and Buttons, for all of their friendly advice and beautiful materials.

IMAG0167_BURST006

‘Adventure’ is Currently Unavailable. Please Hang Up and Try Again.

When I imagine what makes up an adventure, I think of a hero setting off in trepidation, before being met with an action-packed series of events that propel him (or her) swiftly to a triumphant conclusion, all loose ends tied. What I don’t imagine is the hero or heroine sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, in between the inevitable beginnings and endings of their adventures.

This, in short, is my problem. Whilst you can have all the preparation in the world for how to start and end your adventures, no one can tell you what on earth should go on in between them. Should this ‘limbo land’ even exist? Or does society expect us to perpetually hurl ourself from one exciting enterprise to another, with no time to catch our breath? Maybe that is what a successful lifetime is?

Recently, I’ve had my fair share of endings and beginnings. Upon finishing university and beginning graduate life, with a handful of (probably highly unrealistic) dreams cradled close to my chest, I travelled to Dublin to undertake an internship. The high of having swung successfully straight out of one adventure and into another was exhilarating. Soon enough, however, my next adventure also had to come to an end.

So, it was back to square one. The sudden crash down to a seeming-standstill that I experienced felt monumental. The lulls in life are not what society, literature or the media prepares us for.

Simple pleasures

Simple pleasures

However, the lesson that I have come to realise is that, though they may not be as lively, these moments of stability are just as precious as the more exciting and dramatic changes in our lives. The fact that I can even stop to acknowledge this so called ‘slow-down’ shows how privileged and lucky I really am in the first place.

That being said, I’m still not quite sure how best to deal with this good fortune. My fairy-god-mother hasn’t yet popped up to stop me when I’ve watched too many consecutive films on Netflix. Nor has the tooth fairy flown down to warn me that ten different types of carbohydrate is too many for one sitting. As handy as those things would be.

So, I’ve made a quick checklist for how to get through the interlude between all of these endings and beginnings of life’s great adventures:

  1. The first rule on my list… Make lots of lists. If nothing else, they make you feel productive.
  2. Looking wistfully out of your window in between job hunting or planning your next adventure does not count as leaving the house. Just because you’re in familiar surroundings doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out and about.
  3.  Keep in touch with those you met on your previous adventures. You never know, maybe you will share another just around the corner.
  4. Take up a crazy new hobby! Whether it’s knitting small woodland creatures or keeping tropical fish (this is the one I have gone for), you might find you enjoy something completely unexpected. (More on how I am becoming a ‘Fish Nerd’ to come.)
  5. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. There is such a thing as too much planning, believe it or not. Don’t let worrying about the ‘What’s, ‘Where’s and ‘When’s stop you from taking the first steps towards your next adventure.

In other words…

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever struggled with any new beginnings, endings, or the “middley” bits in between? Leave a comment below, or just like the post!

The “not-quite city girl”: Life in Co Dublin

Well, its safe to say I’m not quite getting the inner city experience, at least not for five days of the week. Having been sent to live with a host family in the seaside resort of Dalkey, and working just two stops away on the DART in Dun Laoghaire, I don’t travel further into Dublin than the peripheral region of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown (CO Dublin).

Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Its true, I don’t get to wind my way through a maze of buildings, scanning every food establishment I pass, in the snatched hour I get off work, for some (most likely over-priced) lunch. It only takes me a shameful seven minutes to get to work on the DART each morning. I’ve been having to contend with a brisk one minute walk down to Dun Laoghaire pier in my breaks, where the only view to speak of is the expanse of sky and rolling, blue sea.

Wait, none of that sounds so bad. OK, maybe its pretty jammy.

I’ve actually tackled the walk from Dun Laoghaire to Dalkey, one optimistic Friday evening after work. It took me about an hour, including an involuntary detour (or, ‘taking the ‘scenic’ route’).

For the first twenty minutes or so, its a straight stroll by the sea, past the famous Teddy’s ice cream store (which any Irish person will tell you is legendary), so its a rather agreeable journey home. I’ll admit I did sample an Oreo ice cream cone from Teddy’s – I was expecting something rather amazing, but to me it just tasted like a slightly nicer than usual Mr Whippy. Perhaps my expectations that Teddy’s would change my life and help me reach Nirvana were just a tad too high.

The 40 Foot

The 40 Foot

Also en route home, I saw quite a few rather ginormous black birds sitting on the rocks down below. They may have been cormorants or shags, but I didn’t get a good enough picture of them to find out for sure. All the same, they looked pretty impressive!

The best part of walking home though, has to be going past The 40 Foot bathing place.  It used to be an exclusively male, nudist bathing site, but is now open to all. Even at a quarter to six on a friday evening, scores of people in just their swimming cozzies and a flimsy towel were making their way, as if drawn by some kind of supernatural force, to the formidable looking spot. The rock strewn inlet would look desolate, if it weren’t for the constant line of people plunging into the swirling, ice cold sea. The water is deep enough that you can jump in even at low tide, although neither the water nor the rocky ledge that swimmers are leaping off of measure up to forty feet.

All in all, I may not be living the life of a ‘city girl’, but I’m pretty lucky to be living where I am – I wouldn’t dream of changing it!

Internship Week One: You Really Can Get Lost in Dublin

The first thing I was told about Dublin was “You will never get lost.” The second thing I was told, almost immediately after, was “If you do get lost, people are extremely friendly.” So far, the first statement has proven to be absolutely, completely false. I have gotten lost just leaving the door of my host family’s house, in the beautiful (but really not all that big) village of Dalkey – not to mention my attempts at navigating the capital city itself.

However, I will admit that over the past two days, I have not yet had the misfortune to ask a single unfriendly person for directions. This is either a miracle of statistics (because I have already asked far too many times than is socially acceptable) or people really are just super friendly.

Before coming to Dublin, I was nervous about coming to a capital city. I was wondering if I would ever be able to find my way around. Now, having spent the first few days here, I’ve come to realise it’s fine if I do get lost. That’s all part of exploring a new place. I have found myself wandering around with very little clue where I am going, but content to just slow down and take everything in.

This isn’t only due to the fact that I’ve accepted my fate to get completely and utterly lost, but also because Dublin isn’t like any of the cities in the UK. It seems as if there is so much more space here – not like our claustrophobic, overcrowded urban sprawl.

I will be in Dublin for two months, which should be more than enough time to see all of the sights, as well as explore the less ‘touristy’ areas. (Although, as I’m here for an internship, I will be spending most of my week working, so watch this space.)

So far, I have paid a visit to the incredibly disconcerting, but very entertaining National Wax Museum Plus. (There’s nothing like taking twenty selfies of yourself and Gollum for a bit of top-notch amusement.) Wherever you look, out the corner of your eye it always seems as if someone else has just walked into the room. The Chamber of Horrors, complete with Hannibal Lector is even more spine-tingling – and a great laugh (or a hysterical giggle, if you’re actually pretty scared, like I was). I won’t spoil the surprises for you!

This is just a quick check in, but I will post again (complete with pictures) soon. Counting down to the weekend, until I can go exploring again – just one more day to go!

P.S. My Dublin Bucket List (so far):

  • Cycle around Phoenix Park and visit Dublin Zoo
  • Walk up Killiney Hill in Dalkey
  • Go to the Leprechaun Museum
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse
  • See some live music
  • Go to Howthe and Bray

Do any of you have any more recommendations?