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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snowy Befuddlements and Homemade Candles

I know I've already done that blog post ranting about how bad the roads are here in the winter. But the winter's still not over and I'm still not done complaining about it.

"You made it!" They might say when I huff into the office in the morning, looking like an angry Eskimo wrapped in way more winter gear than anyone else. "Yeah," I'd grunt. "I'm a little late because I got stuck behind a zamboni on my way here." They'll look at me funny because they don't quite get my humor yet, and I don't make it any easier by not smiling.

Obviously, there is no street-zamboni. But after it snows and melts a little and then freezes again, the roads are about as slippery as the skating rink I could never stay upright on as a teenager. And when everyone lives on a steep hill, they close down the super steep ones and you just have to pray your way down the lesser -- but still very scary -- ski jump of a neighborhood road.

Last week I learned that it's not even safe to leave the parking lot for lunch! Because they don't shovel or salt the parking lot. Well, they don't salt ANYTHING, because salt might ruin the crops in the springtime, and we can't risk not having wheat or garbanzos come spring! We must risk every human life in favor of a few more legumes, lest the Lentil Festival become just another lackluster day! But I digress, the parking lot was iced to this fun degree where the harder you break the faster you move forward? So as I'm barreling towards the road there is, of course, a very unaware pedestrian walking down the sidewalk, minding his own business, maybe playing with his phone, maybe looking at his shoes.

And I can't stop!


Frantically tapping on the horn is all I can think of to do, since the whole pumping-the-brakes thing doesn't seem to stick.

He hops out of the way just in time, and my car brushes his side on his warpath back to the street. I gain control of the car and check my rear view mirror. He's waving me on as if to say, I'm fine, this happens every day, don't worry about me. Kind of like the British guy in European Vacation who acts like everything's kosher even though blood is spurting out of his wrist. In England and in Pullman, before all else, you gotta be polite. 

The whole townwide and collegewide refusal to handle snow here will probably never stop baffling me.

But to prove I'm not all moans and groans, here's a fun soy candle recipe to try! Because if you're not a fan of ice, might as well make a little fire.


You'll need:

  • Soy chips
  • Thermometer
  • Essential Oil
  • Wicks
  • Jars
Put jars in the oven at 125 degrees to pre-heat them. I like squat mason jars.

Set up a double boiler. Pour in the soy chips into the bowl and stir as they melt. I've found that measuring or weighing gets confusing, and who has time for that anyway? So instead, use the jar or container as a measuring cup and multiply by about four (so four jars of soy chips would equal about one jar of melted wax). Better to overestimate than underestimate. You can always put the extra wax in tea light candles, if you have those laying around.

Melt the wax to 185 degrees. In that time, the wax will go from melted and soapy, to clear with dollops of cloudiness, to straight up clear liquid. It's all normal.

Now turn off the heat! And take the bowl off the double boiler to bring it back down to temperature quicker. Now is when you want to add your essential oil. They usually say about an ounce of fragrance per pound of wax, but if you ask me, that's not enough! Pour that stuff in with a confident and steady hand. Some of it will evaporate anyway, even though you aren't still heating the wax. I used orange, which doesn't have the medicinal stink of teatree or eucalyptus. 

Wait til you're down to 125 before you pour wax into the pre-heated jars. Stick the wicks in. It's hard to keep them centered, but before you buy something dumb like a wick bar, just place scissors and pens and other miscellany around them to keep them in place. 

Let dry overnight, and hurray! A little ray of light to keep you warm until spring. Just make sure you cut down the wick so you don't burn the house down.

Stay tuned! Your favorite Brooklynite-turned-Pullmanite might try cheesemaking next.

*If you noticed that I was going for four candles and only had enough wax for three, maybe you'll remember why I said its best to overestimate a tad.

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