This episode is subtitled: ‘Dinner at the big house…’
I’m so unsuited to wild nights out in the city. Am I too old or just a bit boring? It was a relief when Kim and I managed to escape early last week from the Teacups & Tulips post-Christmas party, leaving the young ones to enjoy themselves.
This week I’ve been to Kim and Gary’s for dinner, which was lovely, but I wish she wouldn’t go to so much trouble just for me. Mind you, I go to a lot of trouble myself, deliberating over which bottle of wine will be acceptable, whether I should take a gift, whether to dress up or dress down. Actually, I’d never dream of arriving for an evening at their house in jeans so the choice was either my Whitestuff pinafore (casual but expensive enough to meet with approval, I think) or slinky black trousers and sequined top (glamorous, as long as I can hide the thigh bulges with a cushion when I’m sitting on the sofa). The pinafore won.
Gary’s an architect and their individually designed home is beautiful. It’s so beautiful that I’m scared to sit down sometimes, even in my pinafore. I handed him the bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape that I’d brought and immediately worried whether it’s a bit passé these days but he accepted it without comment which I thought was a result.
I was more confident about the gift I brought for Kim. It was a set of three candles handmade by me and I had the foresight to photograph the process so I’d be able to share it with you as this week’s project. As usual, instructions start at the paw print below.
Kim served seafood blini canapés instead of a starter. I would have preferred the security of the table to eat them rather than risk the cream sofa or the gorgeous aubergine velvet cushion that was embroidered with silver thread and was, at that point, perched on my lap because my dress didn’t cover quite as much leg as I felt necessary. A plate would have been nice but clearly that wasn’t the done thing.
It turned into a really enjoyable evening. Gary was perfectly amiable and seemed genuinely interested in my Salvage Box projects. He even gave me some old ties so look out for those in a future episode, once I’ve worked out what I can do with them. Any ideas?
Kim cleared away while Gary walked me home – it’s only a few minutes if you don’t dawdle.
‘Got any holidays planned, Jen?’ he asked after we’d turned out of Mayfair Gardens with its four bespoke gated properties and headed towards Jubilee Street where Blue, my lovely dog, would be waiting for me.
‘I’d love to go to Seville,’ I replied, ‘to see the Alcazar.’
From the pictures I’ve seen this place looks like a stunning palace with Arabian-styled architecture and gardens – fantastically intricate designs on archways, floor tiles, fountains, patios, and probably lots of other things I’m not yet aware of. It looks truly awesome and I want to see it for real. (Have a look at my ‘Salvage Box loves…Spain’ board on Pinterest.)
‘Didn’t you say that last year?’ he said.
‘Yes, but I haven’t been yet so it’s still where I’d really like to go.’
‘What are you waiting for, Jenny? You might come back with a tall swarthy Spaniard!’ he said with gusto and a touch of sarcasm. We had almost got to the end of the evening without him mentioning my single status for a change, but he was true to form in the end. Luckily we’d just reached my house so I thanked him for a lovely evening, pecked him on the cheek and walked up the path without having to answer his question. One day I’ll get to Seville.
Here’s how you can create candles like those I gave to Kim that evening.
Start by gathering your old candles, the ones where the wicks are so low you can’t get to them with a match, and some glass containers. I used some old chocolate mousse pots, which worked really well (but protect your surfaces when you light them in case they get too hot and remember to never leave a lit candle unattended).
Carefully cut the old wax up, avoiding any smudgy bits from the old wick and melt it in a double boiler. I bought a balti dish for £1 in a discount shop and sat it over a pan of water to make my double boiler.
While your wax is melting (it doesn’t take long) tie each wick to a skewer or pencil and lay them across the jars. I didn’t get mine very straight so you could either buy the wick with a metal disc at the bottom or coat them with molten wax (this is called ‘priming’) to keep them a bit straighter. I’ve not tried either of these methods but think I will next time. [Update 13th February 2016: I’ve made these candles a few times since and coating the wicks with molten wax works brilliantly. Also, wedging your wick between two skewers that have been taped together instead of tying a knot is another good tip.]
Once the wax has melted you are ready to pour it into your glass jars. I would have preferred to have had a dish with a lip so I could pour the molten wax straight into the mousse pots but I had to pour it into a jug first.
I didn’t have enough wax initially so I cut a bit more and melted it down. This meant my mousse pots received their wax in layers, which I think gives better results because I prepared another candle at the same time and poured all of the wax in at once but there must have been air in it and it collapsed in the middle as it set. Doing two or three layers is not a problem as long as you are using the same wax throughout (otherwise you’ll see the layers). The wax does set very quickly so you won’t be hanging around.
Decorating them was fun. I had a rummage through my braid stash and my reels of decorative wire.
The ribbon is velvet and I attached it to the jars with double-sided tape. It creased slightly because the jars don’t have straight sides – good job I wasn’t looking for perfection!
I used the wire to make some charms. I’m happy with the heart and the flower but the other one looks like a cobweb or a ship’s wheel. It’s a snowflake.
I wrapped the wire round each pot about three times and secured it at the back, making sure I’d coiled the cut edges in so there weren’t any sharp bits.
I’m very happy with the finished candles.
• Never leave a lit candle unattended
• Protect your surfaces when you light them because the glass will get quite warm
• Dip your wicks in wax to make them straighter (and, apparently, burn more evenly)
• If you have any unused wax let it solidify and save it til next time or put it in the bin – don’t pour it down the sink!
• Wax from old candles
• Old glass jars
I really enjoyed this craft and I can see me giving lots of them as gifts. Hmm…I’ll need more jars, which means more chocolate mousse. Shame.
Back next Thursday for something new. Bye for now.