April 7 2017

Craft Project – How to Make Shell Candles

I saw a picture of this shell candle project online a while ago, pinned it and like with so many then forgot to go back to it. Saw it again yesterday while looking through my account for a home ed art/craft idea and decided to give it a try. I have a large box of shells that I have collected over the years. I collected these when we lived near the sea and thought they would be perfect. Any shell that has a bowl like shape should work out fine. The whole project took me less than an hour to complete so it really is a nice, easy and not too time consuming craft to try out. I did it myself but it could also be done with a child, just as long as care is taken with the hot wax.

I decided to use some vanilla scented tea light candles that I had but these could be made using bought wax pellets and wicks. The shell candles could also be made using leftover bits of other candles. If you are using wax pellets or candle scraps you will need to buy fairly short wicks to go with them. I reused the wicks from my tea lights and they have worked out fine. That was another advance to using the readymade tea lights, as I do have some wax pellets but no wicks. This post has instructions based on using tea lights but the steps are very similar whatever source of wax you have.


finished shell candles


Making Shell Candles using Tea lights

  • I used six tea lights to make my candles but the amount of wax needed will depend on how large and deep your shells are.
  • Remove all of the packaging, including the metal tray.
  • Break the candles into a microwave safe bowl or other container. The container should be easy to pour from or it may be difficult to transfer the wax to your shells. As you remove the wicks check for any glue as some are stuck down. Remove this and discard.


wax for shell candles


  • Place the wicks into your shells. Try to position them as centrally as possible. This helps to ensure that the finished candle will burn evenly.


shell candles


  • Heat the wax in a microwave, in 30 second increments. Timings may vary depending on your microwave and wax. My 800 watt microwave took two minutes. Once the wax is almost melted you can simply stir it for a short time to finish melting the last small pieces.You could also melt your wax in a pan on your hob over a gently heat. I chose the microwave as it’s quick; I could use a disposable container and didn’t have to worry about any possible damage to my cooking pans or about cooking food in them afterwards. I really should buy a cheap crafts only saucepan for these kinds of projects. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years but always forget!

    Depending on the shape of your shells you may find that you need to support them to stop the wax spilling. This is just until the wax has hardened. I used the metal containers from the tea lights to do this.


shell candles waiting to harden


If a shell is very unstable it may be best not to use it, as it may be hard to burn it safely. When being burnt the shell candles will need to be placed on a heatproof surface. This could be a glass, stone or metal candle plate or if appropriately shaped a tea light or other candle holder.


Do not worry too much about spills of wax or if any is on the outside of the shells. This can be mopped up with kitchen towels now or is easy to remove once hardened.
Leave the candles in a safe place until the wax is completely hard. The time list takes is dependent on various factors such as the heat in the room. Once it has begun to harden you should find that you can move the candles and they will not need supporting to prevent the wax spilling out. The wax I spilt came off the table easily using a plastic modelling tool (for clay). I wasn’t happy with how one of my shell candles looked so once the wax was hardish but not completely hard I used the modelling tool to gently scrape away the excess. I also added a small amount of melted wax to the dip in that candle. I used a small piece from the spillage and gently added it the shell candle.

My candles were dry enough to feel hard and not spill within 20 minutes but I left them overnight to be sure they were dried all the way through. Other than the top centre one, they all stand up pretty well by themselves now. This is due to the wax helping to balance them out. However it’s best to place the shell candles on a safe surface before lighting, just as you would any candle. It will also make any spills of wax easier to clean. I will use a glass candle plate when burning mine. However, I really like the candles and feel like they are too sweet to light! I can’t see any reason why the shells won’t be okay to use again with fresh wax and wicks once these are burned down. I am wondering if the shell will be weakened by the heat but guess I will have to wait and see and experiment carefully.





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November 16 2016

Download Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget eBook

Often when people hear gluten free and vegan together their first thoughts are either, it must be very expensive or must be a very restricted and boring diet to have. The good news is that neither of these are true and even when coupled with the need to be gluten free, vegan food can be delicious, healthy and varied. In June 2016 I finished and published my Kindle book Gluten Free and Vegan on a Budget, which is packed full of tasty recipes with are free from gluten and all animal products.

gluten free and vegan ebook

The 56 page ebook contains twenty one of my own gluten free vegan recipes. For each recipe I have avoided using expensive or difficult to obtain ingredients and have instead used foods that are easily available and naturally gluten free and vegan. A few of the recipes do include vegan cheese and gluten free pasta but these are now stock by many supermarkets and health food shops. The recipes also do not require any specialist equipment, although a food processor or blender of some kind is useful.

Most of the recipes serve two people but can easily be made for more by increasing the ingredients. From various groups and talking to others I have found it is common that only one person in a family or household will be vegan and/or gluten free, so it felt more practical to have recipes that could be made in smaller amounts with no adaptations.

Each recipe is accompanied by a full colour photograph of the dish and this book also contains a list of ideas for jacket potato fillings and seven delicious healthy smoothie recipes.

vegan fudge

Recipes featured in the ebook include:

Rice Patties with Stir Fry Veg

Pea Curry

Creamy Mushroom and Leek Pasta

Spicy Lentil Pakoras

Pear and Polenta Cake

and many more.


Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget was originally only available for Kindle devices and apps and from the Elderberry Tutorials Etsy shop but can now be bought and downloaded directly from this page. To purchase your copy simply click on the link below. Payments are handled securely by PayPal so you can be sure that your details and privacy are fully protected.

[powr-digital-download id=f345eed6_1479827994156]

November 3 2016

Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials

Today I thought I would share one of my herbal hubs, Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials. I have been writing articles on HubPages for nearly five years now and enjoy writing about herbs, crystals, healing and many spiritual subjects. HubPages is a great site for writers to share knowledge and for anyone to learn about pretty much anything you can imagine.

I originally wrote this hub in May 2016 and it is packed full of information of healing healthy drinks. The featured drinks include smoothies, teas and cordials that can all be made at home. These healing herbal drinks also do not need any expensive or complex ingredients or equipment to prepare. The full article contains recipes for healing herbal smoothies, teas and cordials including elderberry syrup, minty cacaco smoothie and peppermint and calendula tea.

healing herbal tea
Source: Ruta Kucinskaite, [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

All of the needed ingredients can be bought easily and many can be collected growing wild, even in towns and cities. These include elderberries and rosehips. Although it is very important to be certain of what you are picking before you consume any items. Do not take more than you require and take care so not to damage the plants or harm any wildlife or habitats. Many herbs can be grown at home in your garden or in pots on a balcony or driveway. Some are even happy to grow on an indoor windowsill. Alternatively, some supermarkets and other shops stock living herb plants that can be used. Dried herbs can also be used and if you grow your own, these can be dried and saved for later use.

Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials

As well as being a delicious addition to meals and other edibles, herbs have a powerful ability to ease, soothe and heal a huge range of illness and other difficulties.

One excellent way to take advantage of the powerful natural powers of herbs is to use them to make various types of hot and cold beverages.

Herbal Teas

There are many herbal teas that can be bought easily and so maybe familiar. Examples of this include peppermint, nettle, chamomile and fennel teas which can be bought from supermarkets, health food shops and other retailers in tea bags much like regular tea. These can be drunk purely for their tastes but do also possess health benefits that can be utilised. Peppermint tea is known to an useful in soothing stomach upsets and any digestive upset. Fennel tea can help with trapped wind and can be an excellent and natural way to ease wind and colic in babies. If mum is breastfeeding, she can drink the tea and it’s benefits will pass to her baby through her milk.

healing herbal peppermint tea
Source: Anthony Cramp. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr
To continue reading the full article, please visit Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials on HubPages.


May 5 2015

Munchy Mix – Dried Fruit and Nut Mix

Fruita nd nut mix

An unusual and enjoyable mix of dried fruits and nuts that can be made in advance ready for use. This mix is ideal as a healthy snack or trail mix when at home or on the move. It can also be used in cakes and cookies or added to granola and other cereals.

Store the fruit and nut mix in a sealed container or jar and it will last for several months at least.

 Munchy Mix

You do not have to have exact cup measures to make the mix. Any container is fine as long as you use the same one throughout.

1/2 cup of dried pineapple, torn into pieces if required
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of dried papaya pieces
1/2 cup of dried apricot pieces
1/4 cup of whole almonds
1/4 cup of cashews

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine.

2. Pour the mix into a suitable container and seal.

You can also label the container so you know what is inside and with an ingredients list if desired.


January 15 2015

Vegan Goulash Recipe (Wheat, Gluten and Nut Free)

Vegan goulash

This is a simple recipe for making a vegan goulash. The recipe contains no wheat, gluten or nuts and is of course meat, dairy and egg free. This recipe is low in fat and has no added salt. If you are using a bought stock or stock cube it is worth checking the salt content as these can be high. This dish can be made using just one pot so saves on washing up too!

There is no need to rehydrate the soya chunks before use as this will happen during the cooking. You could also use frozen soya or other meat substitute chunks to make this vegan goulash if you prefer.

Serves 4

Olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, sliced
5 chestnut mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp cumin
600ml hot vegetable stock
500g cartoon passata
100g dried soya chunks

1. In a saucepan, saute the onion in a little oil until softened.

2. Add pepper, paprika, celery seeds and cumin and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

3. Add the hot stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil.

4. Add the soya chunks and mushrooms and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the soya chunks are fully cooked.

Serve with rice, quinoa, pasta or nice crusty bread or simply enjoy the vegan goulash as it is.


December 20 2014

Save Money on Heating with Cheap and Easy Insulation.

There are many ways to save money on heating your home including switching to a cheaper supplier or taking advantage of special offers and deals, buying portable heaters or electric blanket or wearing more layers of clothes. These are all useful and are things that most people can do easily at home themselves and enable them to stay warmer at less cost. However if there is a problem with your house such as gaps between windows and doors and their frames, no matter how much you wrap up the house will still feel cold and heat from any heating you do lose will be lost to the outdoors.

One room in my house has a set of wooden patio doors that are lovely in the summer but very drafty in winter. Since we moved here three years ago I have tried several ways of fixing the problem to help save money on heating the room, including using door sealing tape to fill some of the gaps. Some were too large and I also found that the tape was not very long lasting. While thinking about what to do to solve the problem that would not be too difficult, very expensive or mean that the room was then far to hot in the summer. I remembered the way many people use bubble wrap to insulate garden greenhouses and thought there was no reason that it would not work for internal windows and doors as well. Even better I had some large sheets of bubble wrap that had come in a parcel that I thought would be perfect for the job.

From start to finish the project took about 30 minutes. I used masking tape to stick the bubble wrap sheets to the door frame so that the gaps between it and the doors where completely enclosed. I decided on masking tape partly because it is easy to tear into pieces and also is likely to be easier to remove once it is warmer again than a more ‘stickier’ tape such as sellotape. Rather than measuring the bubble wrap I stuck it down on one side on the door frame and then held it across to the other side before cutting it to size. The tape needs run the entire length of each piece of bubble wrap otherwise the drafts will come through any gaps. If you need to join the bubble wrap at any point, the joins also need to be completely covered with tape.

The room is now much warmer even when the heating is not on and once the weather is warmer again I can remove the bubble wrap and store it ready for next winter. You do not need to buy special bubble wrap to use it as insulation and can reuse some you already have as I did. The bubble wrap needs to be seal all the way around the edges of the window and door as drafts and cold air will be able to pass through even the smallest gaps. If you need to join pieces of bubble wrap these will also need to be taped along the edges completely so that there are no gaps there.

Bubble wrap can be bought in rolls that would be ideal for this cheap insulation project, as it can then be cut to the required size easily and any extra stored neatly. If needed the bubble wrap insulation can be removed and re-rolled and saved meaning that only new tape will be needed next winter. These factors make this method and very cheap and effective way to insulate doors and windows. Even more so if you are able to reuse bubble wrap you already have. But even if you need to buy some now, it can be used in future and the costs overall are likely to be less than the money that you save on heating costs.

Save money on heating
All edges and joins should be covered completely with tape to stop any cold air coming through the bubble wrap.