recycling candle leftovers into baby candles

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my summer project has been turning all the end scraps of my candle collection into fresh new tea light candles that I can give as party favours (and maybe keep a couple for myself.)

it’s easy to do – all you need are a kettle, a microwave, and the tea light cups and wicks (available online for a song) – and it makes for a good couple of hours of fun in the kitchen with a friend or a good podcast playing. it also means i get to tell people i’m “making candles”, which sounds like i’m a fancy person with a whole candle making operation.

my illustration up above lists the steps -here’s what they look like in a bit more depth!

1…first catch your rabbit (and by rabbit i mean wax). once a candle is burnt down to the last 5mm, it’s hard to burn any further. many candles come with warning labels about this because the jar may overheat if the flame gets too close to it, and nobody wants an exploding candle jar. (you can also use this method to break up one big candle that smells too strong into lots of little candles that are less strong. i did some of this as well.)

to get the wax out of its jar/tin/whatever, you’ll need to boil the kettle and fill the container to the top with boiling water. the wax at the bottom will start to melt and stream up to the top of the glass like a one-way lava lamp! leave the jar overnight while the wax melts itself up, collects at the top and hardens. (you want it to be hardened because liquid wax is bloody murder to get off almost anything, including your hands.)

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so you end up with a jar full of water, and then a big thick layer of wax sealing it up at the top. once the wax has hardened completely, put it over the sink * and push on the wax until it comes loose. now you can use the jar as a pen cup/candle votive/vase/happiness jar, too!

i collected a whole lot of chunks of wax before i began, which ended up making about 100 tea lights. since the next part is pretty messy and hands-on, that’s a good way to do it.

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* WARNING / CLEANLINESS NOTE: you have to do it over the sink because all the water will splash out everywhere and it probably has bits of grease and soot mixed in from the candle, so it’s really not good on your kitchen floor. for bonus points: do this over a sink that you don’t mind getting grease and soot on either. in my house, that’s the laundry sink.

2…now you have your wax, you can make your candles!

it’s pretty straightforward. put your piece of wax in a microwave-safe bowl (preferably one you don’t really like) and melt it back down to a liquid.

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then comes the messy bit: pour it into tealight candle cups and add a wick in the middle. the pouring can be a bit tricky, so lay out newspaper and be prepared to lose a fair bit of your wax spilling over the edges. i found that spooning the wax into the cups with a plastic spoon was pretty reliable, but still not mess-free.

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3…leave your candles somewhere flat to set. this takes up to an hour, depending on the consistency of the wax and how warm the weather is! be patient.

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3…once my candles were set, i decided i’d use them as party favours so i labelled them with what fragrance they were and wrapped them in cellophane with glitter, like this:

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xx

Dora

 

flower child

flower child is this ridiculously gorgeous cafe that opened last year in my area. it’s full of hanging plants and tiny vases of flowers everywhere, and their food is off the charts yummy. it’s been a great place to go with friends for special occasions, especially when they’ve got a new job or achieved a dream and I want to go somewhere unusual with them to celebrate!

every time I’m there I have my phone out taking photos of everything with zero shame. dig in, you guys.

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xx

Dora

and i said hey, what’s going on

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Driva commented on a recent post of mine: “You know what I would like? A post where you tell us a bit more about what you are up to in life, where you are going to live (of course not too detailed!), what you’ll work with etc. I feel I never get the hang of it but eager to know.”

Which sort or made me realise, I haven’t explained much of what’s going on in my real life on here.

And then my talented as heck friend Tracey (who just made a photography profile because I kept bothering her about it, and you have to go see it, it’s so darn cool) took these portrait photos of me, and I thought gee, they’d look nice on a blog post about me and what I actually do in my life.

So here goes.

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I’m 23 and I just finished a Psychology/Law degree in my hometown of Sydney, Australia. Sydney is the biggest city in Australia, the one that everyone has heard of. But it isn’t the capital city – that’s Canberra, which almost nobody has heard of.

It’s a lot like how the most famous city in the USA is New York, but the capital is really Washington D.C.

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In February, I’m going to be moving on my own from Sydney to Canberra to work for the Australian Government as a graduate lawyer. I’m not too sure what my actual day to day work will involve (and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to blog too much about it because of legal confidentiality requirements). What I can tell you is that it’s going to be my first ever 9-to-5 office job, my first ever move out of my parents’ house, my first time getting to actually help someone with all the skills I’ve learned at uni… and I am crazy excited.

I started out university 6 years ago, doing just Psychology on its own. After a year of that, I decided that I wanted to study Law as well. Most of my close friends were really surprised: I copped a lot of “so when are you going to sell your soul to the Devil?” style of jokes. I’m a conversationalist, a creative person, and I honestly could not give a damn about how much money I make. So being a lawyer probably didn’t seem like an obvious fit for me.

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BUT (and it’s a big BUT) there are lots of things you can do with a law degree, and that was what I was thinking about when I signed up for law school. I knew I had absolutely no interest in being a stereotypical lawyer: joining a big Suits-style law firm and working from 7am until midnight every day, making a six-figure salary by protecting rich businesses from paying their taxes.

But I also knew that all the characters in The West Wing had law degrees. I knew that the Chaser comedians met in law school. I knew that a law degree plus being a conversationalist, a creative and a person who doesn’t care about making mega bucks meant that I could do what I have always really wanted: to help people who needed it.

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If that thinking sounds simplistic or naïve, all I can say is: I was 17 when this all happened.

I want to acknowledge that not everybody can go to university, and that I know that I am incredibly lucky to have been able to do so. Getting a degree is not the only way to help people, or necessarily the best one. Being able to look at my life and say, “sure, it’s pretty good, but why not add a law degree just to top it off” is a privilege that I am very conscious of and is the product of living in a country that supports tertiary education, in a city, with comfortably well-off parents who care about me and without any discrimination or major tragedies having cropped up in my way.

Not many people have that privilege and all I can say is that I’m grateful to have been free to make that choices that I have, and that I plan to channel this privilege into making the world a fairer place where more people have access to the benefits that I’ve been lucky enough to receive.

I’ve learnt between 17 and 23 that the skills you need to help people are ones you only learn through real living, not studying in fat textbooks. One of the most important people who’s taught me this is my friend and kind-of-boss Rochelle. She’s a sweet lady who lives by the beach and works as a personal trainer. Her life looks perfectly normal, except that one day she turned around out of the blue and singlehandedly founded a charity, Share the Dignity, that provides every woman in need around Australia with free pads and tampons when she’s on her period. Her motto is “get sh*t done” and that plus a strong internet connection have been all she’s used to start a nationwide movement. (She also won a little thing called the Cosmopolitan Humanitarian of the Year Award for it.)

I’ve volunteered for Share the Dignity for a year now, making illustrations and taking care of their email newsletters, and it’s shown me more about how to save the world (and which parts of it need saving) than the whole five years of law school. No matter what else I end up doing in my career, I’ll always be part of this cause.

So, looking back on it, I didn’t need to go to law school to be able to help people. But that’s the way it’s worked out, and I can only be grateful.

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Right now, I’m finishing up my studies by doing the College of Law – basically a crash course in how to be a lawyer, which you have to do before you get your practicing certificate. Back to the fat textbooks again! It’s an online course, so I’m doing it in my PJs, at the kitchen table, with a big mug of tea. It’s not such a bad way to spend the summer.

Apart from that, I’m enjoying my last remaining weeks in Sydney by trying to visit every single delicious restaurant that I love here (it would’ve been smart to decide to visit every gym here too for balance, but that isn’t happening.)

I think that’s everything! Congratulations if you made it to the end of this enormous post!

Have you ever moved cities by yourself? If you’ve blogged about what it’s like, I’d love to give it a read to learn some tricks so link me in the comments!

 

xx

Dora

i got a parcel!

my darlin’ Beth sent me a christmas care package, despite specifically telling me she wouldn’t (because she lives in the US and postage is ridiculous). which made for a great surprise when i came downstairs to a parcel with her handwriting on it!

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what a cutie pie.

inside it was all beautifully gift wrapped in very appropriate map of the world paper, and she managed to squeeze so much in!

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i loved the card: “instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. it’s much more interesting.” adorable.

the pineapple bag is a bit of a running joke between us because centuries ago when we were in high school and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, there was a whole term when 14-year-old beth was obsessed with pineapples. i haven’t been able to let it go, and now i’m the one who looks obsessed.

plus: sparkly nail polish! and a pin that says “good vibes only”, girl power chewing gum and tiny homemade candles that beth taught me how to make (full post on that coming soon.)

beth also taught me a self care trick: when she’s feeling sad, she makes sure to put on a t-shirt that somebody has gifted her, as a concrete reminder that somebody cares about her. i remember thinking when she told me this that gosh, i wish somebody would give me a t-shirt so i could do that! and she helped a sister out.

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we always include polaroids too. look at this sweetie!

do you send care packages to your friends? it requires a certain tricky skill of trying not to buy everything in sight that reminds you of a person you care about, because otherwise you’ll end up paying $80 in postage and nobody’s got budget for that. light-weight and flat things also come with special postage advantages.

 

some new year’s rituals.

this year i don’t have a resolution as much as i have a great, shivery sense that it will be different. that the line in between 2016 and 2017 is realer than just the swapping from old to new diaries, and the firing off of fireworks for the sake of it. I feel it in myself and see it reflected back in the posts and newsletters and messages I’ve been reading from friends and strangers all around the world. i don’t want to resolve one thing or another but just to trust 2017 to be the year it is going to be, and look for the good things in it that we all seem to know are on their way.

and since i believe that the Universe / God / Fate /Luck / whatever we will call it helps those who helps themselves; some rituals, then, to frame that optimism:

1. reading my horoscope.

not in a believing-it way, because I don’t really believe the stars can shape what happens down here. but as a way to inject every month with a small piece of self-help or advice to stitch my experience back to, or an idea for a part of myself to keep an eye on and exercise. i’ve found i like rookie magazine horoscopes (rookie is a free online alternative girls’ magazine, and it’s full of beautiful things). they’re forgiving and thoughtful, creating the kind of space for self-reflection that i want.

for example, here’s my rookie horoscope for january:

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2. a happiness jar.

elizabeth gilbert, author of eat pray love and big magic and just an all around wonderful person to have in the world, shared an idea for a ritual to celebrate the light points in life in a Facebook post that made me really happy.

the idea is that every single day has at least one happy moment in it (or, as she mentions, one “least-crappy moment”) and recording them leads us to consciously be on the lookout at all times for good (or “least-crappy”) moments, no matter how tiny or insignificant.

i’ve definitely come across this idea before, but something about thinking of them as “moments” rather than “good things” or “something to be grateful for” made it concrete to me in a way that it hasn’t been previously. because a moment can be something unconnected to broader life. like maybe, the rain being a perfect temperature on your skin and the moon peeking between the clouds. that’s the kind of moment i want to notice more this year.

here’s my happiness jar (I started it a little late on 3 january, because I only saw elizabeth’s post on 2 january and took a day to think about whether i’d do it. so i went back and thought of good things that happened on the first and second):

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what are your new year’s rituals or resolutions? i’d love to hear how you’re celebrating this new start!

xx

Dora

lately.

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2017 is here! as was the case for many of us, 2016 weighed heavy on me. not just the good people we lost, not just the huge losses of faith as the political landscape took a lurch towards the bigoted, but filled with personal anguish, both in my life and reverberating through the lives of my loved ones.

it’s enough to simply say, i am grateful for the fresh start the new year provides.

making this blog was one of the highlights of 2016 for me – a reason for me to take photos, which I love, and a place where grammar and syntax and seriousness are a little less essential than they were in study and they will be in professional life.

so. here are a few of those photos and a couple of frivolous thoughts.

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1…christmas! every year, I love the preparations more than the day itself. the same way that for me, the best part of any party is getting ready with friends beforehand. I made cards and little presents for darling friends, and was the chief tinsel operator around our home.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

2…christmas also brought a voucher for $20 of free ice cream. my mother and i shared it while we drank amaretto sours and re-watched old boxsets of Sherlock.

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3…for the holiday itself, we road tripped up the cost to my grandmother’s house. cute pit stops are always welcome and we drank our way through four thermoses of tea each time.

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4…among other things, I’m currently reading this book. it’s heavy going, and a lot of it is very sad, but it’s written with lightness and grace and teaching me things I need to know.

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5…my grandma’s dog!

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6…i discovered a new magazine – a bit like an australian version of Flow – and just so happened to have origami paper to hand for the DIY inside. Also picked up a copy of yen magazine, which i keep forgetting that i love.

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7…sweet pretty organic wine that I’ll have to look up now we’re home.

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8…and, at last, driving home. I think this trip soaked out the last remaining scrape of energy I had left for the year. once we arrived back i just collapsed. i’m taking some days for myself, as much as i can, for some peace and quiet and rebuilding.

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love and light for the new year!

xx

Dora

bath time

if you take a look at my instagram you’ll know that my guilty (or…not so guilty) pleasure is taking a lot of baths with lush bath bombs. lots of my friends joke to me that they can’t have instagram game as strong as mine until they post photos of “those colourful swirly baths” haha! i don’t believe that for one minute but i did think when i had my most recent lush bath that it would make a cute little photo series to show you my bath time setup, which gets pretty elaborate. so here goes.

  1. the sitch: i get the hot water running well in advance because my house has awful water pressure and it takes an age to fill up the tub.

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(shower wall drawings by yours truly, using posca pen)

2. the thing with taking long baths is sometimes you do need to take a quick break to talk to somebody outside the bathroom door or you have to touch the computer to pause Netflix when it’s time to wash your hair. so I make sure I have laid by at the ready a hand towel, tissues and a robe.

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3. like i mentioned, i’m a netflix in the bath kind of girl (I watched a lot of stranger things in a bright green bath which felt very appropriate) so i’m in the tub for a fair while and i have a chance to do all those extra skin- and hair-care steps that you don’t get time for in the shower before you have to run to work. this time i was exfoliating and doing a deep condition on my hair.

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4. bath bombs have fragrance oils in them so they make it extra dangerous to stand up in the bath. so I try to make sure i have everything i’m going to need in reach.Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

5. bath bomb time! this one’s called mistletoe. it’s a christmas limited edition that they only make around november/december but if you like the colours, this one comes out similar and is available year round.Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

6. i wait until the bath is full before i put in my bath bomb so the water doesn’t ripple and mess up the pattern. you just dunk your bath bomb in the water and it does its thing!Processed with VSCO with e3 presetProcessed with VSCO with e3 preset

7. sometimes i combine my bath bombs with a little bit of bubble bath. if I do, I use a shower gel instead of kids’ bubble bath to avoid drying my skin out, and before i eve start running the tap i drizzle it on the bottom of the tub so that it beats up into a nice foam as the bath is running.Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

doneskies!

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manly adventures

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Driva asked for more photos of the Australian summer so here goes!

on the weekend we headed to Manly Beach. everyone and their dog was there this close to Christmas. that didn’t stop us having a lovely time!

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we started off with coffee and lunch at fika swedish kitchen, a cute cafe run by a group of lovely swedish locals who share beautiful pieces of their culture and food so generously! they also sell imported swedish sweets and treats, so being in there is like being in a candy store.

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the beach was full of matchy-matchy umbrellas and deck chairs from the hire tent. we didn’t get one but they looked so sweet, all colour coordinated:

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dinner was hotdogs from the hot dog man. we started going there ages ago because I loved their vintage name-in-lights sign, but the actual hot dogs are as good as the decor! I love the crunchy slaw they put on them, which is so refreshing next to the fatty sausage and the sweet brioche bread. also, they don’t put mayo or aioli on your hot dog if you ask them not to, which is a relief for me because I can’t stand raw eggy sauces at all.

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after dinner we went for a ramble around the beaches. manly is positioned across the width of a peninsula so the famous “manly beach” is actually only one half of it! then there’s a long street lined with pretty shops, cafes and pubs that leads to the other side of the peninsula, where there’s another beach, the ferry stop and the pier.

at the pier i treated myself to the flow paper lovers’ book, a spin-off of the dutch flow magazine. it was too windy to unfold all the lovely posters inside, but it sure does have a lot of pretty in between the covers! I’ll be taking it when I move so the decor in my new room will be the toast of the town.

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a good, good day.

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I spent half of today doing a photoshoot and having fascinating conversations with my friend Tracey! the photo above is a shot she just sent me from editing. soon I’ll do a post showing you more of them and telling you a little bit more about me but right now I just want to celebrate Tracey’s amazing talent and the gorgeous drizzly warm weather we had. also today I learnt that the yummy photo effect where the thing or person in the foreground is super focussed and the background is super blurry – like here – is called bokeh!  the more bokeh, the bigger the difference between foreground and background. it was a good, good day.

I hope you too had a good, good day! x