Making Soy Candles – A Year of Living Cheap

Soy Candle Making 

This craft is an easy and inexpensive way to make wonderful gifts.  All you need is:

2 lbs Soy Flakes

2- Four cup glass measuring cups (microwave safe)

Scented essential oils

Wax Candle Color

8 Four ounce jelly jars or 10-12 votive jars

HOT PADS!!!!  Do not touch the measuring cup when taking it out of the microwave with your bare hands.  HOT, HOT!!


Empty half of the 2 lb bag of soy flakes into each of the glass measuring cups.  Microwave one at a time on high for about 3 minutes.  Add your wax color and microwave one more minute.  If not melted, add 30 seconds at a time.  Mixture must be clear.  Place the measuring cup on a hot pad to protect your counter top.  Remember the hot pads for your hands.


After you have melted all your wax, let the containers sit for about an 30 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.  Add your essential oil at this point.  I used lavender and peppermint which are my favorite.  I get my oils at my local herb shop, Desert Sage Herbs


While your soy mixture is cooling down, prep your jars with wicks.  I use wax wicks and not the wood wicks.  This is a personal choice as I have not had any luck with the wood wicks burning.  They usually flare, sizzle and then go out.


use Tacky Wax to hold my wicks to the bottom of the jar.  Some people use hot glue, but I have had more success with the Tacky Wax (you can also use it to put posters on your wall without ruining your paint with holes!).


After waiting the 60 minutes your mixture should be looking cloudy and a little slushy.  Now is the time to pour your candles.  Again use care as the glass will still be very warm.  After pouring your candles IF you want to add anything to the candle, now is the time.  I add lavender flowers to my lavender candles.  I sprinkle the flowers on top and use a tooth pick to push them down into the candle.


Clean up is really easy, just use soap and hot water. 

Let the candles completely cool, then you can move them out of the way.  Wait 24 hours before you add any lids.

The cost for the wax is not too expensive.  I buy mine online and get 10  pounds for $20.00 which includes shipping.  Expect higher prices if you go to a hobby shop.

Go forth and create beautiful gifts for your friends or for yourself!



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Saving Money on Every Day Items – A Year of Living Cheap

Maybe you have seen the recipes on Facebook for items you use every day.  Recently I tried a couple and here are the results. 

Liquid Fabric Softener: 

2 cups hair conditioner

3 cups white vinegar (helps eliminate odors in your clothing)

6 cups hot water 

Mix until everything is combined in a smooth liquid.  Do not shake, this forms too many bubbles and then is hard to transfer to your old fabric softener container. Makes just shy of 3 quarts.  This works great and I found that there is no difference in how my clothing feels. 

The above cost me about $1.25 compared to the almost $9.00 it would cost me at the grocery store.  AND you can pick what scent you want! 

Ladies, hair conditioner is also great when shaving your legs.  It makes for a very smooth shave and when you are done you have softened the skin on your legs. 

Make your own Febreze:

Insert a funnel into the top of an old Febreze spray bottle

Pour 1/8 cup of your favorite fabric softener or conditioner into your old 32 ounce spray bottle.

Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the bottle

 Fill the rest of the bottle with warm water so everything will mix together smoothly

Replace the cap and shake the bottle well (you will have bubbles from the shaking but they will dissolve).

This cost pennies compared to buying at the store and AGAIN you can pick your scent.  Works great, I love it!

How to clean your drains: 

This is not only cheap but easy on your pipes and the environment!

  • Pour 2 cups of boiling hot water down your drain.
  • Next add about 1/2 c. baking soda.
  • Then, mix 1 c. vinegar and 1. c very hot water and pour it down the drain.
  • Cover with a drain plug (let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Flush it once again with boiling water

There are so many ways to save money, you just have to look for the ideas and be open to trying them.  Once you do you will never go back to the “store bought” item again!






What in the world is a “Play Date”?

I hear parents talking about “Play Dates” for Susie and Bobby.  What in the world is a “Play Date”? 

When I was young we did not have to book a play date with another kid.  We walked across the street or next door and played with Billy, Joyce or Yolanda.  It was spontaneous, it was fun and we had many adventures.  Our moms always knew were we were.  All they had to do was lean out the back door and yell our names.  If we didn’t hear them one of the neighbors did and let us know to get our butts home, pronto!

Our “block” was five miles long and we use to ride our bikes around that “block” at least once a week.  My sisters and I would pack a few PP&J sandwiches and some Kool-Aid and take all morning or afternoon exploring the farmers fields, the woods and some of the small streams.   My sisters and I would crawl through culverts and play in the mud!  We would even stop and visit some of the folks that attended the same church, like Roger and Gladys or George and Dorothy.  They loved kids and we were part of their family too, so yes they spoiled us.  Our parents never had to worry about us.  They knew where we were and knew the neighbors along the way would keep an eye out for us.

I feel sorry for the kids today, they have no imagination and their day is planned for them with “Play Dates” and computer games.

Go outside, smell the fresh air and get a little dirt on those designer clothes!

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Homemade Gifts for Holiday Giving – A Year of Living Cheap!

This year I will be making my Holiday Gifts!  This is a great way to save money and to make a one-of-a-kind gift for the special people in your life.

Several easy homemade gift ideas are:

Simple leather journal

Soy container candles, scented or unscented

Beaded bracelet

Leather draw string bag, pouch

All of these are simple DIY projects and only take a couple of hours, tops.  You can do an internet search and watch a video or get the step by step instructions.  IF the instructions go on and on, do another search with the word “easy” in it.  None of these projects are “Rocket Science” and any beginner can accomplish every one of these.

I melt the wax for my soy candles in the microwave in a “microwaveable safe glass bowl”.  It is easy, fun and I love the fact I have candles made by me in my home!  When making the leather draw string bag, there is no sewing if it is round (like a dinner plate)!  Punch holes evenly spaced, run a string or leather lacing and it is done.  You can choose to decorate with beads or if you are using suede leather you can paint on it.  It is really simple and fast.

So choose your project, don’t go overboard when getting the supplies.  Simple is always better and won’t hit you in your pocket book like a bomb went off. Your friends and family will love the gifts you made just for them and you will not have to touch those credit cards this year!

If this is not your cup of tea, then support local crafters and go to a craft show to get your unique handmade gits!

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Cut Costs on Home Office Supplies- A Year of Living Cheap

I try to cut costs when ever and where ever I can.  Like printer ink.  The ink for my Epson Printer costs around $75.00 dollars for the four different ink colors my printer uses.  Granted this is the XL size but WOW that is a lot of money.  Yes I use this printer for my Dragon Alley Journals business, but still a lot of money.  So I try to make my ink last as long as possible by printing in draft mode and both sides of the paper (saving paper too).  When you need a professional print, it is simple to put the printer back in standard print mode.  This, plus ignoring the warning that my ink is low, because there is still at least two weeks left on the ink.  The manufactures set this warning to go off early in order to sell more ink.

I also buy my office products on sale.  The office product store I go to (because it is close, thus saving gas) sends out emails with coupons and what the current sales are, so I signed up for the email.  I also have their “Rewards” card and every month they send me at least a $9.00 dollar off coupon that helps save money on the products I buy, specialty paper, ink, etc.

I buy my printer paper at Wal-Mart, yes a free plug.  The reason I do is they have by far the cheapest price for printer paper and it is every bit as good as the office supply store and at a third of the price.  Do not be fooled, do your research.

I also haunt Goodwill in their office supply section and have scored on great paper finds and journal inserts for pennies.  I have also found top of the line pen and pencil sets again for pennies, compared to what they would sell for in other stores.

So shop around, find the best deals and save money.

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Paying off Debt – A Year of Living Cheap!

So now you are saving money and what do you do with that extra money?  Buy stuff, go out dancing?  NO!  Now you start paying off debt and putting some money away for a rainy day.

Don’t attack your debt by adding it all up and dividing by some number you pulled from the sky.  Start slowly.  First you start with your lowest credit card and try to double  the payments each month.  If you can’t double the payment then add something, anything to make it a larger payment AND do not use that card again.  Cut it up.  I have a friend that  froze hers in a block of ice so she has time to come to a better decision by the time the block of ice thaws.

When you have your smallest debt paid off then add that entire payment to your next smallest debt, and just keep on going.  You will be surprised how satisfying this is and how fast your debt is paying off.

Same with saving money.   Start off with as little as $10.00  per week and after six months add 5 to 10 more dollars and before you know it you have a down payment on a car or the house of your dreams.

Start small, don’t get discouraged.  But if you don’t start somewhere some day you will really be sorry.

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