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The plants and flowers in your garden are only the surface of the overall look. They cannot have character without structure – beds to lie in, containers to spill over, bricks and stones to offset them, and a collection of items to provide interest, height, or focal points. What you choose for this last category depends on your style. If you like a less-than-traditional, whimsical look, then found items are a must.

Using found items takes a little more time than stopping by your local gardening center and choosing traditional items like plant stands and trellises. But the search is so much more fun.

Start looking at home

Before you go hunting for others’ discarded junk, why not free up some of your own storage space? Dig through your attic, garage, and storage sheds. Look through your kitchen cupboards and closets. Search for items you will not use again that would hold up well in the elements. A worn pair of gardening boots would serve well as planters in the garden – a fitting end to their employment.

Choose items based on shape, texture, and color

Your found items should enhance your garden and stand out a little. An old wooden ladder, for instance, can serve as a plant stand in a spot where you need a little visual height. A pink or mustard cast iron bath tub provides a splash of color and will blend in to the landscape with proper placement and a few cascading plants.

Peruse found-items

Flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores are familiar territory for folks looking for bargains. Visit antique stores, estate sales, and auctions both actual and virtual. Sometimes you can find a few gems discarded on the sidewalk in exclusive neighborhoods. Check your phone book for salvage companies for homes.

Be selective

Sure, you are doing the earth a favor by repurposing something that was headed to a landfill. But be forewarned: It’s easy to go overboard when you start collecting old treasures. As you hunt, keep a lonely space in your garden in mind. Measure it first if necessary.

Drill or fill for drainage

With an electric drill you can turn just about any vessel into a planter. You will need different bits depending on whether you are drilling wood, metal or stone. If you don’t trust your own expertise, take the container to your hardware store, and they should be able to help you.

Planting in pots with no drainage is a no-no, but it would be a greater shame to put a hole in that antique teapot. Some materials are easily damaged by drilling, like ceramic, porcelain and enamel-covered cast iron. If you must plant something in there, fill the bottom of your container with a dense layer of pebbles or gravel, burying a plastic flexible tube into it that curls over the lip of the container and to the ground. After you fill your flowerpot with soil, the tube will act as a siphon to draw off water from the bottom.

Even the most traditional gardens improve with the addition of a carefully chosen and placed found item. When you are done, you can give yourself a well-deserving pat on the back. Using found items that otherwise would only be tossed into the landfill is a very green act. And, besides, now you have a garden that has your own mark of creativity and style.

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Frugal Gift Ideas – Beeswax Candles

Who doesn’t love the warm comfort of a candle on a cold winter’s night? If you’re scratching your head wondering what to gift your loved ones this holiday season, look no further than a homemade beeswax candle.

This is an ideal gift if you keep bees on the homestead. While you can always gift honey, beeswax isn’t in short supply, either. Don’t toss your beeswax! Collect it all year round to form into delightful gifted candles.

Here are my two favorite ways to make beeswax candles as gifts.

Method 1

Use this method to create beeswax candles in a jar. These are easier to store, transport, and gift. It’s a great option if you’re new to making candles.

Supplies:

● Grated beeswax (about 5 pounds)
● Wicks
● Tape / super glue
● Glass jars
● Double boiler
● Popsicle sticks

Directions:

1. Melt your beeswax in a double boiler.
2. While the beeswax is melting, set up your jars. Glue or tape the end of the wick to the bottom of the jar. Wrap the wick around your popsicle stick, and let the stick lie horizontally on the edge of the jar.
3. Once the beeswax is completely melted, carefully pour it into the jar.
4. Adjust the wicks as needed.
5. Allow the beeswax to cool at room temperature until they’re solidified, about 2 – 3 hours.
6. Snip the wicks to your desired length.
7. Decorate the jars and gift away!

Method 2

Use this method if you want to make more traditional beeswax candles without a container. They’re perfect for a Menorah! For this method you’ll only need the beeswax and wicks.

Supplies:

● Grated beeswax (about 5 pounds)
● Wicks
● Parchment paper
● Bowl of water
● Double boiler

Directions:

1. Melt your beeswax in a double boiler.
2. While the wax melts, lay out your parchment paper and bowl of water. Cut your wicks to the desired length. If you want a 7-inch candle, for example, you want 16-inch wicks. You’ll be folding the wick in half and dipping both ends to make two candles at once.
3. Once the wax is melted, dip your wicks. Remember to fold in half and dunk both sides. Each wick will make two candles.
4. Dip the wicks into water to set, then shake off excess water.
5. Repeat this process until your candles are to their desired thickness. It’s a labor of love, but it’s worth the work!
6. Once the candles are thick enough, chop off the bottoms of the candles. This straightens them out for easier use.
7. Cut the candles apart and trim the wicks, if needed.
8. Let the candles continue drying for 24 hours before burning.


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