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Staycation Diaries: Day 1.

If we’re not counting the weekend, today was officially my first day of Staycation! But, I did have a good weekend – I went to two places in town that I’ve never been – Counter Culture and Capital City Bakery (both vegan).

I also laid out at the pool, finished reading a book (and am already close to finishing a second), and went to Sprout’s Farmer’s Market for the first time.

As difficult as it is for me to admit, my mental health has been suffering lately. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is about to explode! It’s difficult for me to tell if it is grief, work stress, fatigue, or a combination of all three, but what I know is that my usual comforts haven’t been reliable, and that’s scary.

So, part of my staycation will be giving my mind and body the rest that it needs, but also moving “Find a Therapist” from the bottom of my to-do list and move it to the top.

Yesterday, I started making the vegan Banana Cream Pie that was on my Staycation list – it took awhile since the filling had to set overnight, but it was worth the wait. I finished it this morning and immediately had a slice – it was very good, very light! You can get the recipe from the Minimalist Baker.

I spent a majority of the morning on my patio, drinking lots of coffee and reading – it was really peaceful and nice.

But, it wasn’t long before I ventured to my computer, because even though I’m off at my day job – freelance work means you’re never truly on vacation. It also didn’t help that my boss from my 9-5 is also on vacation and she set me as her backup – le sigh. Communication really is key, folks.

I’ve talked some about my freelance career on here, but it’s something I’ve always done on the side to earn extra money and to keep my skills fresh. I find that no matter the day job, I am always looking for a change of plans.

Currently, I’m really lucky to have several steady jobs going at once, and they’ve really broadened my horizons because most of them are in other countries, including Switzerland and Columbia.

But it also means lots of organizing, juggling, and time management. For a few hours, I actually felt like I wasn’t on vacation at all. Then I remembered that I do have a whole week ahead of me, and even though I’m still doing work, it’s nice to be doing the work while posted up in bed, binging on MTV’s “Ex On The Beach”.

I did take a break to run to Michael’s, because I need to ship an Etsy order tomorrow! Ps. I am currently running a summer sale in the shop – get 20% off + free shipping when you order any two items!

I did get some supplies to make a few new items for the shop, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open for those.

In about an hour, I’m heading to a yoga class, and tonight I’m going to cook dinner, and probably head back out on the patio to finish reading a book!

I was gifted the LUSH sleepy shower jelly and lotion, which I have been dying to try – I’ve heard you really zonk out after using it – so I’m going to try that. Really partying hard over here!

Stay tuned for Staycation Day Two… and keep up with me on social media @OrangeJulius7 (especially if you want to see how my pie turned out)!

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Spring cleaning + soy candles.

Time to get scrubbin’.

Over the weekend, I decided to tackle a task I’ve been putting off: spring cleaning! I don’t think I’ve ever officially completed a “spring clean”, and frankly, I never understood why it was such a big deal (or maybe it’s not and I am just falling for the advertisements). But this year, I really felt like my apartment needed a good scrub.

During the winter months, I barely stepped foot on my patio, so it really needed the attention. So, I kicked off my Saturday by hitting up a few stores and getting supplies. I ended up with a giant new pot, six new plants (including a mini cactus, lavender, and a mountain laurel, among others), a cute citronella candle in a ceramic owl, and a string of solar-powered lights.

I spent the next four hours or so transplanting the plants that had survived the cold months, and putting my new plants in some random pots I had. I put up my string lights, swept the patio, and even cleaned the glass for my sliding door. Finally, I re-arranged the pots (according to their need for sunlight)… and it looked like an entirely new patio! I have eaten dinner out there a few times since, and it’s just so cute!

Next, I took my cleaning party inside and just started scrubbing. Truthfully, I keep my kitchen and bathroom pretty clean from week to week. Because of my kitty, I clean my bathroom (where her litter box is) once a week, and I always try to clean up my kitchen each night before bed. I hate dirty dishes in the sink!

But, rarely do I do these “big cleans”, and this one was about more than just scrubbing. I also wanted to get rid of a few things, and organize some drawers. So, this clean took a very long time. Currently, I have two brown bags of clothes to donate (along with a few pairs of shoes), and a stack of books. I’m not quite done going through everything, but it’s a start.

I cleaned out my kitchen drawers and my bathroom drawers, wiping them out and organizing along the way. Although it was a time-consuming task, it makes me happy to open up my makeup drawer each morning and have everything right in its place.

One thing that’s difficult for me is keeping things tidy. I’m really bad about just tossing things down when I come home for the day, or not putting things in their place once I’ve used them. And this week I’ve tried to be better about it since I put in all the time on Saturday, and although the place still looks pretty nice, I’ll admit it’s kind of frustrating always being on “tidy duty”, or whatever you want to call it!

On Sunday, I was rewarded for my labor with brunch and a girlfriend came over to make soy candles. The funny thing is, I had recently started looking into what it would take to make my own candles. Why? Well, I have a soot problem from burning cheap candles – the soot has nearly stained my ceiling and even my carpet. And it got me thinking – what the heck have I been breathing in?

So, when the friend suggested we MAKE soy candles, I jumped on it! She had already ordered the soy wax flakes (a 10lb bag), wicks and adhesive, a pouring pot, and a food thermometer. She even had the essential oils so we could add scent.

We went to Michael’s and found some really cute jars for under $2. We got to my apartment and Googled a few videos to make sure we weren’t about to mess things up. Honestly, we just sort of played things by ear. We boiled a pot of water in one pot, and placed the pouring pot into the water – the pouring pot had the soy wax flakes in it.

Those melted down, and we took the pouring pot out of the water and waited for the temperature to drop before dropping in the oil. It’s important to let the wax cool to around 120 degrees farenheit or else the scent will burn off.

We never could get a could sense of just how much oil to put into each batch – some sites said 1 ounce, which is a TON in essential oil measurement. We started with 6-8 drops of oil per 3ish cups (unmelted) of wax. If the wax didn’t have a strong smell after pouring into the jars, we added additional drops. The soy wax flakes were white and we didn’t add any colors – although some of the oils had natural coloring.

The fun part about making the candles was choosing the scent blends! I also have a collection of oils, so we had a lot to choose from. Some of the combinations we made were: lavender + peppermint, lemongrass + sweet orange, tea tree + lemongrass + cedarwood, and winter morning (a premade blend) + wintergreen.

So, basically you just have to pick your containers (you could use jars, cans, coffee mugs…), then apply the wicks to the inside bottom of the container, and add something to hold the wick in place – such as a pencil or a chopstick to lay across the top of the container and twist the wick around it.

Once you melt the wax, let it cool to 120 degrees, add the oil, stir, and pour into the containers. Then let it sit overnight – I put ours in the fridge to set completely. The one thing we truly guessed at was the measurements. We used 5lbs of wax and made 10 candles, all around the 6-8 ounce size. The wax melts down quite a bit, so 3 cups of unmelted wax is probably 2 or less cups, melted. I don’t know science, but this was a constant struggle for us!

Nevertheless, our candles turned out so cute, and I’ve already started burning the lavender + peppermint one and it’s fabulous. Homemade candles would make great gifts, or are just great to keep!