Why do we use Candles on Birthday Cakes?

Artemis, the Ancient Greek Goddess of the Hunt, of Nature, the Moon, and Motherhood, was a powerful woman who, despite being a huntress, had a powerful connection to Earth’s creatures. She was the protector of all living beings who were incapable of protecting themselves. Her twin brother, Apollo, was the god of the Sun (along with Helios, a Titan).

Candle Moments Artemis Birthday Cake

To worship and honor Artemis, ancient Greek people would bring cakes adorned with candles to her temple. People believed that the smoke from the candles was the way for their prayers to be carried up to the moon for Artemis to hear. This may be one of the reasons why we “make-a-wish” on our birthday candles – with the hope that the smoke may carry our wishes to divine listening ears.

Another attribution of birthday candles comes from the tradition of Kinderfeest, a children’s birthday celebration beginning in the 1700s. Traditionally, during Kinderfeest, parents would put the number of candles in cake to indicate the child’s age during the celebration.

Also originating in Germany during the 1700s, there was a religious celebration where people would light candles, usually 12 candles to celebrate each passed month, and place it in the center of the cake. The idea was the candle represented the “light of life,” and the celebration was to mark the life that was lived.

Popular in Latin countries, the “Quincaenera,” or 15th birthday of a girl, was also originally a religious celebration held in church. The girl would light her candle, and in turn, light the candle of her parents, and her parents would light the candles of the grandparents, signifying how we bring new life from previous life, but all rise from the same light. It is popular today in the United States for “Sweet Sixteens” to use candles with each candle representing how one person’s light has shined upon the girl’s life.

Wherever the tradition arose from, the propensity of candle-lighting on birthday’s is a traditional necessity. We continue to make our wishes and be thankful for the year we were given, and the year ahead.

The Hero: Korean Literary Perspective on the Timeless Ideal

The beauties of humanity have long inspired authors; its paradoxical quiet voracity has provided countless metaphors for authors to pick and pluck from.  Humanity, a cross-cultural motif, thematically and simultaneously globally relates with respect to the “Hero”. Regardless of the cultural perspective, the Hero possesses qualities of strength, perseverance, cleverness, and above all – honor. Social and historical philosophies consign heroism into one major thematic facet: The Idealistic Aspiration of Human Life.  My love of candles is partially because I view them as small symbols of heroes. They persevere through the darkness, grasp their flame despite what wind blows, but when they do blow out, they will never fail to be re-lit and shine just as brightly as they did before.

As an American educator, I have taught the “Hero” and his/her many forms as seen in American and British literature, but through the dedication and kindness of The Korea Society, I was able to first encounter and develop my understanding of the Korean hero; through the extreme generosity of The Academy of Korean Studies, I was able to travel to Korea on the Spring 2010 Fellowship and follow the literary footsteps of the Korean hero.

During the summer session at the Korea Society in the particularly hot August 2009, Dr. Mark Peterson, a respected scholar of Korean studies from Brigham Young University zealously taught a group of American educators about the art of writing Korean sijo poetry. Through hours of dedication and instruction on the syllabic form and poetic structure, I laboriously and ardently struggled to write my first sijo:

Leaving behind diamond dreams in the city that never sleeps.

You journey to the land of Ottomans, while I weep.

Your gifts were all empty promises; my heart remains dust to sweep.

I realize as I write this poetry that the Korean hero is not one who is perfect at first try, but replicates the ancient Greek Odysseus, the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf, and the American Paul Bunyan in that the Korean hero is one who tries, fails, and tries again. The Korean hero would not write perfect sijo in his first attempt, but would instead write 1,000 failures that he folds into paper cranes until he writes one more that pleases him. The Korean hero would simultaneously hold the past, the present, and the future in the palm of his hand.

We find the transcendental hero in the writers of Korean history. Approximately ¾ of a year after having the pleasure of learning from Dr. Peterson, I found myself congenially situated on an extended bus ride with him to the National Museum of Seoul. He turns to the group of American fellows and from memory recites:

Though I die and die again; though I die one hundred deaths

Long after my bones turn to dust, whether my soul exists or not,

My heart, forever loyal to my Lord, will never fade away.

Eternal honor demonstrated by the brave Jeong Mongju embodies all qualities and characteristics that drive and create the hero. Remaining faithful to his king, with the foresight of failure and the knowledge of tainted blood, Jeong Mongju accepts his mortality, spiritually and physically, but never at the cost of loyalty. While Beowulf’s men flee at the sight of a dragon, and Odysseus’ men cause the descent away from Ithaca, Jeong Mongju remains steadfast through his death, and his heart never does fade as a hero and ideal amongst the Korean people, and now the Americans as well.

Korean literary heroes come in all forms – whether as Admiral Yi Sun Shin, Tan’gun, Hwang-jini, or Helie Lee – they all share the commonality that it is the dedication, valor, and honor of the people that create the “Hero.” I was very lucky to encounter true-life Korean heroes as I was devastated with the passing of my grandfather while on the Spring 2010 Fellowship. The heroes who take the form in the Academy of Korean Studies did everything in their power to assure that I had an immediate flight home, on Easter Sunday, to be with my family during our difficult time. As an educator of literature, I read about heroes on a nearly daily basis, but as a human being, I encountered true heroism while in South Korea.

Why Guys Need Candles

Let’s talk about the facts of candle purchases in the United States. According to The National Candle Association (NCA), “Manufacturer surveys show that 90% of all candles are purchased by women.” While this fact may not be surprising, it’s certainly one that needs to change. Guys – you need candles, and here’s why:

  1. Once again, according to the NCA, “Candle purchasers say they view candles as an appropriate gift for the holidays (76%), as a house warming gift (74%), a hostess/dinner party gift (66%), a thank you (61%) and as adult birthday gifts (58%).” That means if you’re fighting the clock for a perfect gift, purchasing a candle is an appropriate and appreciated way out of the grind. You can never go wrong by giving a candle as a gift.
  2. The NCA states: “Nine out of ten candle users say they use candles to make a room feel comfortable or cozy.” If you have a living space, you want it to be cozy. If you’re having people over, you want it to be comfortable. Lighting a candle can make game-day much more livable; you can even enhance the moment with a beer-scented candle like Tailgating.  Here’s a photo taken by Jessica Clark, a Candle Moments fan, explaining how the guys in her family light up Chill Out when watching the game! (See it on our Facebook page.)Candle Moments Guys and Football 2Candle Moments Guys and Football
  3. Candles are romantic; there’s no denying it. They’re practically made to “set-the-mood.” In all seriousness, they create an ambiance that shows you’re detail-oriented, and nothing is more romantic than a guy who pays attention to the little things.
  4. Fragrance candles smell awesome. Guys wear cologne, use deodorant, and splash after-shave, why wouldn’t you want your space to smell fantastic?
  5. Candles are an affordable luxury which make a personal statement. The scent, color, and container you choose all identify who you are. It’s an inexpensive way to show people your personality.
  6. Whether you’ve been at work all day, lifting like a champ at the gym, or destroying enemies in Call of Duty – Life is stressful. The calming light and soothing aromatherapy of a quality candle can calm the mind and soothe the spirit.
  7. Candles are a classic necessity. Much like a ’57 Chevy, or the original Star Wars Trilogy, candles have been inspiring guys since the dawn of time.
  8. Candles use fire, and fire is awesome. Since Prometheus gave man fire, man has dominated Earth. Maybe you can’t have a bonfire giving great praise to Hephaestus right now, but you can enjoy one of nature’s greatest gifts to man in a jar.

We’re super interested in hearing why guys love and need candles, too. Please share your thoughts!

Pit-bulls: Putting Down the Stereotype

Recently, as reported by The Daily News, a nine-year old girl was attacked and later passed away from a pit-bull attack in Elmont, Long Island, New York.
Listening to this story, my heart breaks over and over again. For the child, for her family, and for pit-bulls. As animal activists, Candle Moments loves dogs; we even offer the Om Charity Candle which donates to the ASPCA. We hate to see such stereotypes permeate the internet: Pit-Bulls are phenomenal family dogs.
Pamela Reid, PhD, vice president of the Animal Behavior Center at the ASPCA, was quoted by WebMd as explaining that pitbulls had “a fabulous reputation early on and were considered the ideal family pet because they were so good with people.” The long-loved Petey from The Little Rascals was a pit-bull, the famous Target dog, a pit-bull. The pit-bull terrier, which actually embodies several breeds of dogs, was originally bred for their strength and agility to be used in bull and bear baiting. Unfortunately, because of this breed’s dauntless loyalty, they will persevere through any type of attack, which later led them to be bred for pit-fighting.
There has been a long dialogue about pit-bulls ever since the debacle with Michael Vick and his dog-fighting ring in 2007. Since then, the focus seems to have solely been on pit-bull attacks, with fierce opposition by pit-bull sympathizers, such as the acclaimed “Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Millan.
The fact is that attacks on humans by dogs is far more universal than believed. According to the American Journal of Veterinary Medical Association:

Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:836–840)
Much like humans, pit-bulls act how they’re raised. Pit-bulls raised in loving, caring homes, where they receive the same attention and affection as other breeds will be incredibly loyal, loving pets. They are also incredibly smart and healthy dogs.
Pit-bulls should actually receive acclaim. According to The Huffington Post, there are numerous cases where pit-bull actually save the lives of their human friends.
The key to demolishing this stereotype is education. Dog owners need to take responsibility for their dogs. That includes using a leash, giving affection, training dogs, and giving them plenty of exercise. Any dog will attack if his basic needs are not met; this would be the same for people.  It’s neither fair nor ethical to ban and stereotype specific breeds. The onus ultimately falls on the person who raises the dog.
From our own experience at Candle Moments, we helped raise Daisy, who is a pit-bull mix, and she is the most loving little dog on Earth. Her biggest crime would be squashing you because she believes she is a lap dog.
Candle Moments Amazing Pit-bulls
(This is a photo of our nephew, AJ, and our pit-bull mix, Daisy.)

Conversation Starters for the Bold and the Mild

The typical conversation starter, “What do you do?,” is always a classic, but why not bring some fun to your friends and family with some colorful questions? (Be mindful of your audience, always, some of these can be quite…off-color!)

Conversation Starters 

  1. If you could be any super-hero, who would you be and why?
  2. If you could choose any super-power, what would it be and why?
  3. If a gun was pointed to your head and the gunman allowed you the opportunity to say goodbye to three people, who would they be and why?
  4. If you’re stranded on a desert island and you could only have three items, what would they be and why?
  5. What were the five-happiest/most depressing occurrences in your life?
  6. If there was a fire in your home, what three items would you save and why?
  7. If (name two close friends of the person you are asking) were both hanging from a cliff and you could only save one, who would it be and why?
  8. You and two of your friends are stuck on a mountain in a blizzard, your choice is to eat your forth friend who froze to death or starve, what would you choose?
  9. If you got a free pass to travel to any city in the world for ten days, but that could be the only place outside your city that you travel to for the rest of your life, where would you go?
  10. You got accepted to Harvard with no scholarship, but you also get accepted to a community college with a full scholarship, which would you choose?
  11. You have 24 hours left to live due to a terminal illness, what would you do during that time?
  12. A genie gives you the option for everlasting beauty, but ½ reduction of your mind, or great knowledge, but ½ reduction of your attractiveness, what would you pick?
  13. Is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy?
  14. If you could sit down to have dinner with anyone who died, who would you choose?
  15. If you could time travel, would you choose the past or the future? What knowledge would you want to ascertain?
  16. You have a choice to be given a fresh start on life, with a new career and new friends or given $500 to stay the same, which would you choose?
  17. You hold a secret that, if spoken, would kill either the person the secret is about, or the person who told you the secret (depending upon who you tell), or yourself, if you don’t tell it, what would you do?
  18. You’re asked to fight in war for your country; you are guaranteed to die, but will be forever revered, would you do it?
  19. If you had the ability to spend one year of complete happiness, but after that year, not remember any part of it, would you still do it?
  20. If you could relive one moment in your life, what would it be?
  21. What would you do if you knew (name a close friend or relative) had 24 hours left to live?
  22. What was your favorite book and why?
  23. You’re up for execution. The judge sentences you to a choice of either burning or drowning, what would you choose?
  24. Name five adjectives to describe yourself and the people currently around you.
  25. Name one thing you find attractive about each of the people around you.
  26. If you could change one thing about each of the people around you, what would it be?
  27. Who was your greatest love?
  28. Who was your childhood famous crush?
  29. If you could be any character from a book or movie, who would it be and why?
  30. What actress/actor would you most like to do a love scene with?
  31. What foods make you gag?
  32. What’s your favorite love song and why?
  33. Have you ever met a celebrity? Who was it?
  34. What’s your favorite joke? Tell it!
  35. What person do you admire the most, and why?
  36. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  37. What is your definition of success?
  38. Who are some of your favorite bands/singers and why?
  39. What’s the first thing you notice in a person?
  40. What is your dream job?
  41. What was your favorite fairy tale?
  42. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
  43. What is your greatest strength and your biggest weakness?
  44. If you could help one person change his/her life, who would it be and why?
  45. What’s your favorite quotation and why?
  46.  What would you never name your children? Explain your choices.
  47. If you had the opportunity to be anyone in the world for one week, who would it be and why?
  48. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you and at least one person in the current group, together?
  49. What is your most cherished possession?
  50. What’s your favorite horror, comedy and action movie?
  51. What was the happiest day of your life?
  52. Were you a good or bad child? Would your parents agree with you?
  53. Given the ability to project yourself into the future, but not to return, would you do so? Would you go if you could take someone along?
  54. If you were to be cremated, where would you want your ashes scattered?
  55. Five hundred years from now, only one book that exists today will still be available. Which book should it be?
  56. If a movie were made about your life, what would the theme song be?
  57. For $20,000 would you go for three months without washing, brushing your teeth, or using deodorant? You could not explain your reason to anyone. (Assume that there would be no long-term effect on your career.)
  58. If you saw someone shoplifting in an exclusive store, what would you do?
  59. Have you ever been disappointed by a person you looked up to as a role model? Has a hero ever let you down?
  60. Have you ever disliked someone for being luckier, more successful, or more attractive than you?
  61. Is there anything you’d willingly give your life for?
  62. If you could have had a child with a famous person no longer living, whom would you choose?
  63. If you were God for a day, what would you do?
  64. If you could be the parent of one famous person, who would you want it to be?
  65. Have you ever stayed home from work or a social event because you were having a “bad hair day”?
  66. How many of your friendships have lasted more than 10 years?
  67. If you had a chance to bring one person back from the dead, who would it be and why?
  68. How would you react to finding out that your child was switched in the hospital with someone else’s baby? Would your answer be different if the child you were raising was severely handicapped?
  69. If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think would be leading a life more satisfying than yours?
  70. If a crystal ball would tell you the truth about any one thing you wished to know concerning yourself, life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
  71. If at birth you could select the profession your child would eventually pursue, would you do so?
  72. When you perform a difficult task successfully, do you tell people about it or keep it to yourself?
  73. How do you know when you’re in love?
  74. If you were to describe yourself as a food, what food would it be and why?

Handling Awkward Holiday Situations

Every year, the holidays bring a great deal of joy, but also a certain amount of stress. The obvious stressors include finances and shopping, cooking and hosting, but sometimes there are other unintended or unexpected situations which can occur over the holidays adding some unneeded stress.  I am including some strategies I have gained through experience to help you prepare and deal with these awkward holiday situations.

Where are we going for the holidays?
This is both a positive and a negative. I wish we all had so many loving people in our lives that we have to choose where to go for the holidays. If you’re not hosting, this can be a dilemma, especially in a marriage. The best way to handle this situation is to be proactive about it. My husband and I decide, privately, how we’re going to split the holidays. One year we spend Thanksgiving and New Years with his family, and Christmas and Christmas Eve with mine, and we reverse it each year; it’s how we handle the division. If it’s not so easily divided, you can follow the classic invitation rule – whoever invites you first, that’s where you accept. If there aren’t any formal phone calls for invites, it’s okay to ask your closest family what everyone plans on doing to open up the conversation.

How much do I spend on gifts?
The awkward situation where you spent only a little, but someone spent a lot, or in reverse, can create tension and ruin the beauty of gift-giving. It’s a good strategy to be proactive instead of reactive about this situation, as well. Open up the discussion of setting a limit for each family member – more likely than not, other people will feel the same way as you do, and appreciate someone broke that ice. Because our families are so vast, we decided to a Secret Santa at a budget of $100 this year. So on each sides of our family, we’ll pull one name out of a hat, and buy that person a really nice gift. It helps with creating a budget, without anyone feeling lost-in-the-sauce.

Oh great, Aunt Bertha gave us another cat ornament…
Any gift is one to be appreciated, and as much as you may hate your ever-growing collection of cat ornaments, you accept it with gratitude and offer gracious thanks. The old adage holds true – it’s the thought that counts.

My gift was just re-gifted!
This can be very hurtful for you; you may even feel angry with the person who re-gifted your gift. You have to use sound judgement of your relationship to decide how to pursue this. If it’s someone who is very close to you, speak to them privately to express your hurt. It would also be wise to mention that you would rather know what the person may want in the future to avoid disappointment on their end. Open up the opportunity for conversation, and be mindful that the reason the person re-gifted your gift may be because he/she could not afford to make a purchase of their own. If it’s someone not so close, it may be best to ignore it this time around, and if you’re purchasing a gift for this person in the future, include a gift receipt.

Can I re-gift Aunt Bertha’s cat ornament?
Yes and no. Good etiquette would technically tell you not to re-gift a gift you don’t like, but the frugal pragmatist in me says you can, but wisely. If you’re going to re-gift an item, it should be to a completely different circle of people who would not likely ever cross paths. For example, maybe you have a co-worker who loves cats; it’s not likely Aunt Bertha would learn about the re-gifting there. Of course, if Aunt Bertha visits often, and notices your tree never has any cat ornaments, that can be hurtful, so be cautious and mindful before you make this decision.

Religion and/or politics at the dinner table
In my family, we don’t all share the same views on religion and politics, so if this discussion comes up, it is almost a guarantee someone gets angry. If you find yourself in the same predicament, it is best to avoid the discussion all together. That could mean just listening with great patience, that could mean volunteering to start washing some dishes, or that could mean breaking out another bottle of wine. The best practice here is to just stay out of it.

But I’m a vegetarian/But I’m on a diet!
Not sharing the same diet as people at holiday dinner can be a frustrating experience. This is another situation where it is best to be proactive. Bring a dish to dinner to share, something you are comfortable eating. Don’t insult the food or make snarky comments; remember that you are a guest in someone’s home, and whether or not they’re aware of your dietary constraints, be gracious. Sometimes families can be pushy about their food or drinks. Just kindly decline, and it’s okay to use a bit of a white lie here, such as “Oh, I’m so full already,” or “I’ve had a bit of a sour stomach all day.”

Simultaneously, if you are the host, you can be proactive by asking your guests if they have any special constraints early before you start planning your holiday meal. While you may not be able to make 12 different dishes for every constraint, you can certainly make a few adjustments. If the variety is far too overwhelming, it’s okay to suggest everyone bring an item they want to share.

Holiday Collections at Work
It seems like everyone is collecting for something during the holiday season, and while charity is a wonderful thing, it’s also very personal. Don’t feel like you have donate to every cause (read my blog post about the Charity Dilemma here). The best response at work, if you don’t want to and/or can’t donate, is to simply say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve already allocated my holiday donations this year.” You don’t need to get into any lengthy explanations for your decision.

Do I have to be politically correct?
This is another situation where it is best to use common sense and good judgement. In a workplace, it is best to use terms like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings,” unless you are completely positive of the person’s beliefs. In other public forums, I would recommend gravitating to the latter advice.

What should I bring?
If you are attending an event at someone’s home, it is important not to arrive hand-to-mouth – that means, yes, you need to bring something with you. It’s customary to bring a bottle of wine, a dessert, a side-dish, or a host/hostess gift. A phone call to your host/hostess asking what they would like you to bring will usually lead to a generic, “Oh, just yourself” response. This is just politeness, you should still bring an item. If you’re absolutely unsure, narrow it down to a couple of choices, and call your host/hostess offering the choices: “Hi Mary, I was wondering if you would prefer I brought a bottle of wine, or if I baked some chocolate-chip cookies?” When you pose it as a non-option, you will receive a more honest response. *Wink wink* You could always bring a Candle Moments Candle from our Holidays & Celebrations Collection.

Do you find yourself in any other awkward holiday situations? We would love to hear your comments so we could help you come up with solutions!

Decorate on a Dime

When Frank and I first got married, we were doing everything on a budget: Paying for a big Italian New York wedding, moving into our own apartment, buying furniture for that apartment.  Everything seemed to come at once. We received help from our families, who were very generous with us, but it still wasn’t enough for us to pay for everything with a clean slate. To be really honest, we took out loans from our retirement, we took out personal loans, and we wiped out our savings account.

By the time it got to the point for us to decorate, we decided we wouldn’t. We would live in our apartment with furniture, and that was enough. But, the bland simplicity of a super-minimalist space just wasn’t our thing; a house isn’t a home until you add your own finishing touches. So, we got to work searching for the cheapest way we could create our space.

Tip #1: One of the first things we realized was that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we could make the space our own over time, and that’s key to budgeting – take your time and don’t feel like everything has to be done at once.

Tip #2: Check the clearance section in your local pharmacy. I found this awesome battery-operated plant-light fixture in our local Duane Reade for $8 in the clearance section. It was a little piece that really “lit-up” our living space.

Candle Moments Light Up Your Space

Tip #3: Use nature. As you can see behind the lit-up plant, we have a giant bamboo plant. Frank bought that bamboo plant for me about five years ago; it cost him about $10. It started in one of those little pots, and just kept growing. We went to our local Ikea, bought the giant vase for about $30, and the thing shot up into a small tree. Beautiful, clean, and a constant reminder of what we are growing together.

Tip #4: Create your own art. A Pinot’s Palette opened up on Staten Island less than two years ago. It’s such a great concept – for those of you who are unfamiliar, you book a “paint-night,” and they teach you how to create a featured painting, so you walk out of the session with a painting you created. It cost me $40, I had the chance to spend the night with my Mom, my Aunt, our close family friends, and I came out with this awesome mermaid painting for our bathroom.

Candle Moments Mermaid Painting

Tip #5: Art is everywhere. I love mermaids; I always have. When The Little Mermaid by Disney came out in the theater, I made my Dad take me about 7 times to see it. My Mom gave me this beautiful postcard of a mother mermaid and her baby when I went off to college. I kept it because I loved how beautiful it was, and what it meant to me. I went to Home Goods, bought a frame for about $5, and hung it in my bathroom, too.

Candle Moments Mermaid Picture

Tip #6: Create a theme. Decorating can easily be overwhelming when you don’t know where to begin. As you can see, I created a mermaid theme for my bathroom, but then I focused on my spirit animal for our living room and kitchen – the owl. After shopping around, I found these pictures in Home Goods for about $8 each, and the owl clock on Amazon for about $12.

Candle Moments Owls

Tip #7: Candles! (Of course, candles!) Candles are a great way to decorate your space because they are inexpensive, attractive, and they also create a scented ambiance. I have two of our own candles burning, Giving Thanks and Lunch Break, but I also have three battery-operated candles. The battery operated candles light-up and change colors with a remote control! My parents bought them for us a side gift, but they found them in Lot Less, which is a local discount store, for $10.

Candle Moments Soy Vegan Candles Tip #8: Avoid “trends,” unless you truly love it. Trendy items will always be more expensive because of basic supply-and-demand rules. If you stay true to what you really love, and take the time to find it, you will build your own beautiful empire.

Tip #9: Shop Indies. For those who don’t know what “Indies” are, they are independent small-businesses. You will find beautiful items for far less than you could imagine if you’re shopping in the right places. Check out the Indie Business Network Handmade Gift Guide for more ideas.

Share your own decorating on a budget ideas below!

Frequently Asked Questions About Candle Moments

Candle Questions

1. Why does my candle have frosting on the side? Frosting is usual for soy wax, as is some seeming gaps of jar adhesion. This is completely normal for true soy candles.

2. Why is the color different for the same type of candle? Because each candle we create is by hand, it is normal and natural for there to be some color variation. In fact, if you wanted, you could customize your order so that it has a completely different color or shade.

3. What is a wax tartlet? Some people prefer to use wax warmers instead of a traditional light-the-wick candle. Tartlets are wax melts that go inside the warmer to give off aroma as they melt.

4. How long should I burn my candle? It is recommended that you burn your candle for at least 1 hour per inch of the diameter of the candle. Don’t feel like doing math, no problem. You want to burn your candle until it has a full 1/4 – 1/2 inch melt pool. Typically, you don’t want to burn your candle for longer than 4 hours at a time. Learn more here.

5. My wick is turning black and curving, what should I do? This is called “mushrooming,” and is typical for a wick to do this if it hasn’t been trimmed. You want to make sure you trim your wick when the candle is cool, between each burning, to prevent this build-up of carbon.

6. What is a good way to store my candle? You want to store your candles in cool, dry areas, with the lid on. This prevents dust and lint from building up, which could potentially ignite and be dangerous.

7. My wick is drowning and/or the wax on the sides isn’t melting, what should I do? This happens when the candle has not been initially burned long enough. Candle wax has a “memory” which means it will continue to burn the same diameter it was originally burned. To avoid this from happening all together, please refer to question 4. If this has already happened, what you need to do is extinguish your candle, wait for it to cool and dry, then use a semi-sharp object (like a butter knife) to dig out your wick and scrape the sides of the candle. Try relighting the candle. If you’re still having a problem, you can use a heat gun or hair-dryer for the sides of the candle to spot-heat your problem areas.

8. When is it time to discard my candle? When you have about 3/4 inch of wax remaining, it’s time to buy a new candle!

9. What does “hot throw” and “cold throw” mean? Hot throw is the amount of scent a candle gives off while burning, and cold throw is the amount of scent a candle gives off when cool.

10. I just lit my candle, why can’t I smell it? It typically takes at least 30 minutes of burning for you to start noticing the hot throw of a candle.

11. My candle spilled, what should I do? The beauty of soy wax is that it is easily cleaned. You should be able to get wax off of most hard surfaces with a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol. If it accidentally spilled on a carpet, you should refer to the instructions of the carpet manufacturer for proper cleaning.

12. Why don’t you use essential oils in candles, isn’t that unnatural? While fragrance oils are chemically manufactured, the ones we use are perfectly safe (they’re even skin safe) and phthalate-free. Essential oils are very dense and will often drown your wicks, which is why we don’t use them.

13. What does it mean when you say your candles are veganTo be vegan means one does not use any animals or animal by-products. For example: beeswax is often used in candles and/or body products, but it was derived from animals, so it is not vegan. Be cautious by reading all ingredients and look for the PETA logo. Some products will still claim to be “vegan-friendly,” but are using animal by-products. We do not. Not ever.

14. What exactly is a Lotion and Massage CandleThese candles are crafted with soy, shea butter, coconut/sweet almond oil, vitamin e oil, and fragrance oil. They are designed to be used on skin when melted. The temperature will go up to about 102 degrees Fahrenheit, only a little warmer than our normal body temperature, so it won’t burn you. This is a very thick and moisturizing formulation, so it’s best used on super dry spots like dry hands, dry feet, cuticles, etc.

15. I can’t find a candle I purchased before, where is it? We maintain a standard listing of candles, but we also have Limited Edition candles. We create Limited Edition candles to keep things fresh and new. If you purchased a Limited Edition candle, and it’s no longer offered, please contact us for a custom order.

Body Scrub Questions

1. What does it mean when you say your scrubs are veganTo be vegan means one does not use any animals or animal by-products. For example: milk, beeswax, buttermilk, lanolin, emu oil are often used in candles and/or body products, but they were derived from animals, so they are not vegan. Be cautious by reading all ingredients and look for the PETA logo. Some products will still claim to be “vegan-friendly,” but are using animal by-products. We do not. Not ever.

2. What is the difference between The Triple Scrubby and the Scrubby Body Polishing Oil? The Triple Scrubby is made with sugar, shea butter, and plant-derived oils. This is quadruple whipped for extra softness, and designed for use on the body, the face, or for shaving; this formulation is unscented. Scrubby Body Polishing Oil uses both dead sea salt and sugar, as well as shea-butter, and plant-derived oils, and essential oil for fragrance. This formulation is more oily and a little more grainy because it’s designed to soften up the really dry parts on your body, like hands, feet, elbows.

3. Can I use the scrubs in the shower? Yes, absolutely, but we must caution you about the oil – this may cause your shower to become slippery, so please be careful! Also, some of our Scrubby Body Polishing Oil was originally made in glass jars, so please take extra precaution when using glass in a slippery shower, we don’t want any accidents.

4. You use essential oils in the Scrubby Body Polishing Oil, is that safe on my skin? Yes, we use very small amounts of essential oil, which is naturally diluted by the other plant-oils in the formulations. We never recommend you directly use essential oils on your skin without proper dilution and knowledge. Please see Kayla Fioravanti’s post on the safe use of essential oils.

5. What’s the right way to use a scrub? Take about a quarter-sized amount out of the jar (to start with), spread over the area you want to scrub, then in slow, gentle, circular motions, massage the scrub into the skin. Rinse off, and leave the remaining oil for moisture.  We recommend you pat-dry when you’re finished, not rub, to keep your skin soft and supple.

6. How do I shave with The Triple Scrubby? It’s pretty simple, we promise!  Use The Triple Scrubby on any part of your body you want to shave, then rinse off thoroughly, use the remaining oil as a shaving lubricant.

Other Questions

1. Why does a candle company make scrubs? We aim to capture the moments that make us happiest, and sometimes that’s kicking back, lighting a candle, and sometimes that’s a nice, hot shower.

2. Do you plan on adding anything else to your line? We are currently studying and in development of soap, and hope to add that to our line in the future.

3. Where do you come up with the names of your products? Haha, we have lots of fun doing this; check out our blog post on it.

4. Where are you located? Our home-base is in Staten Island, New York.

5. How can we contact you for more information? We welcome your comments and inquiries. You can find our contact information here. 

Do you have any other questions for us? We aim to please!

Simple Veggie Soup Recipe to Save Time and Money

I wrote a blog post yesterday about How to Maximize Your Time, and I mentioned making huge meals you could use for the rest of the week. Here’s an example of my Simple Veggie Soup, which is delicious and an easy re-heat.

Have you ever looked in your fridge and realized you had a bunch of vegetables that would soon rot if gone unconsumed? This happens to me ALL the time!  A frustrating idea – throwing food and money into the literal trash. I find soup to be an easy way to use up these veggies and make a great meal-filler. Don’t forget about all the amazing anti-oxidants and vitamins which will certainly aide in your beauty regimen!

Feel free to be creative about the vegetables you choose – except the onion, carrots, and celery are a must-have as a soup base. You can add potatoes instead of pasta, if you want the soup itself to be heartier.
Serving Size: 10.

Ingredients

  •       8 cups of tap water
  •       1 bay leaf
  •       1 teaspoon salt
  •       1-2 teaspoons of pepper
  •       1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •       1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  •       1 onion
  •       3 Tblsp Olive Oil
  •       2 Tblsp Better-than-Bouillon Chicken Flavor
  •       10 Celery Stalks
  •        1/2 pound baby carrots
  •        1 zucchini
  •        3/4–1 pound green beans
  •        1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
  •        1 small can of mushrooms (drained)
  •        1/2 pound Angel Hair spaghetti (broken into 1-2 inch pieces)

Instructions

  • Wash and chop up all the vegetables, including the onion. Saute onion and oil in a large pot. Once onion is browned, add all vegetables, bouillon, and water. Add all spices and the bay leaf. (Make sure you take the bay leaf out once the soup is cooked.)  Let simmer on medium heat for about 40 minutes. It’s okay to cook a little longer, but the vegetables should be tender-crisp.  In a separate pot, boil water and cook pasta. (Keep pasta separate.) Once ready to serve, add pasta to a bowl and soup on top – mix in each separate bowl. Add salt & pepper to taste.  I like to add about a tablespoon of Parmesan in each person’s bowl for an extra kick.

How to Maximize Your Time

I’m always flattered when people say, “How do you do it!?” after they find out I work full-time as a high school English teacher and run Bath, Body, Candle Moments full time. I’d like to say that it’s a piece of cake, but it’s not; I am tired, but I have discovered some strategies that make it work, and hope they will work for you, too.

  1. Make lists. Yes, this list is an example, but there is nothing quite like the sweet gratification of striking something off your list once you’ve completed it. I put everything on my list; I mean, I even put “take a shower” on my daily list. (Not that I need the reminder, but it goes back to the joy of striking something off.) The other added bonus of lists includes the ability to prioritize. I use technology and my phone’s capability for lists, but the old pen-and-paper is just perfect.
  2. Wake up early. The old adage is true: “The early bird gets the worm.” Morning is usually quiet time around here and especially around school; I use that quiet to focus. I wake up at 4:30am every day. I’m not saying you need to keep farmers’ hours like I do, but when you wake up, you’re fresh and your mind is clear.
  3. Make your bed, every day. I sound like your Mom, but it’s true – when you make your bed, you have one space that is already organized which organizes your mind. (Donna Johnson of the Indie Business Network recently said the same thing, so there is more than my advice attached to this!)
  4. Block time for your top priorities. You have to make and keep appointments with yourself. If you’re a parent, and your kids are always demanding your attention, schedule a certain block of time that will be their time, and their time alone. This teaches them patience, and it ensures they’re not going to be disruptive to battle for your time.
  5. Focus on one task at a time. Be present. Whether I’m cooking dinner, crafting candles, writing this blog, or teaching my classes, that is what I’m doing. I don’t allow other distractions; I ignore my phone and I keep the TV off. It’s very difficult to complete even the simplest tasks when you allow yourself to be distracted.
  6. Make exercise part of your daily routine. Okay, this one I’m still struggling with, but what I do to try and keep myself moving (on some level) is take the stairs, park a little farther, and do at least one physical chore a day (see tip #7).
  7. Do one physical chore every day. You can vacuum, rake, weed, clean the bathroom, do the laundry, whatever it is, make sure your body is moving and the task is getting done. This prevents a pile-up at the end of the week, where the overall task of cleaning seems daunting, and it’s exercise.
  8. Get enough sleep! We, as humans, cannot function without the appropriate amount of rest. The average adult needs between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. A recent blog post by Roberta Perry of Scrubz Body pointed out the importance of making lists before going to bed; she’s nailing the main point – you allow your brain to rest because it knows you have a handle on the situation. You almost have a conversation between your conscious and subconscious. Doing this allows you to have meaningful rest.
  9. Light a candle! Of course, I need to relate this back to candles, but it has been scientifically proven that aromatherapy helps to focus your mind and body. When your mind and body feel calm and focused, your productivity will naturally increase.
  10. Just say no. It’s okay not to accept every invitation, or to tell your friend you’ll call her back (assuming it’s not an urgent matter, of course). Time is our most valuable asset, be mindful about what you do with it. Don’t spend time on unnecessary tasks or invites if you really don’t want to be there. The same applies for work; give yourself a cut-off – maybe that’s a day during the week, or a certain time during the day, but you must allow time for sheer enjoyment.
  11. Shut the television off. If you’re worried about missing your favorite shows, invest in a DVR or Netflix. TV is one of the biggest brain-suckers out there. Save your TV time for your quiet time.
  12. Play background music. It has been scientifically proven that music increases productivity. According to the linked New York Times article, “music can bring us back to the present moment.”
  13. Shut off the notifications on your phone. There are dings and rings for every alert in the world, but this can not only be distracting, it can be detrimental to your perception of productivity. For example, you will probably receive upwards of 20-30 emails per day (maybe more, I average around 100 if I include work email). If I stopped to check every email, assuming I spend about 2 minutes per email, that means I am literally wasting 3.33 hours a day just checking my email, not even acting on them. Sign up for a service like Unroll.me, where they will roll-up your non-urgent emails into one daily email, or one weekly email. Or, just unsubscribe to stuff you don’t really need. (Except this blog. You NEED this blog.)
  14. Keep your sink clear of dishes. This goes back to the making-the-bed concept, but a sink full of dishes is a constant reminder for what hasn’t been completed because most Americans spend 60% of their time at home in the kitchen and living room. Also a great training technique for kids, or anyone else you live with.
  15. Create a bill-paying chart. I use a year-long bi-fold calendar. I write when each bill is due on the appropriate date for each month. Twice a month, I sit down and pay those bills, striking off which have been paid. This ensures I’m never late on payments, and never overwhelmed by piling bills.
  16. Order groceries online. Okay, this isn’t for everyone, but food-shopping is one of my biggest time-and-soul suckers. I use online delivery because it stores my previous shopping list, tells me what’s on sale, and then drops it off at my door. Easily saves me 3 hours a week.
  17. Prepare huge meals at once. When you cook, do it for a small army. Use the leftovers to pack lunches for the next day, or for other meals during the week.
  18. Plan your meals in advance. This goes along with tips #16 and #17. When I order my groceries, I consider what giant meal I will be cooking, order all of the ingredients, and then have it ready to go. Less thinking, less fussing, more doing.  (I will share some giant-meal recipes in a future blog.)
  19. Clear out your closets every other month. Consider donating unworn clothes to charity; I usually donate to the Disabled American Veterans Association. Cleaning out your closets has multiple functions: It reduces clutter, it simplifies your decision making, and it counts as a physical chore.
  20. Work through lunch. This tip is a bit controversial, and it really depends on the type of work that you do, but as a teacher, working through lunch means less for me to bring to my home. If you’re in the type of work where you will have to complete whatever you’re doing at home if you don’t finish it there, then I suggest working through lunch. If not, then use your lunch break as a time to go grab a walk.

What tips do you offer for maximizing your time?