DIY Candles.

I was compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own, as are all of my reviews. Thank you for visiting!

DIY Candles from Uncommon Goods at thesoutherninstitute.com

I have been wanting to make my own candles for quite awhile now. I wasn’t sure how much wax to buy however, or which type of wax would be the best to use. Not only that, but when I went online to look at wicks and containers, the only options I saw to buy were large quantities in bulk, and I didn’t really want to purchase that many. I wasn’t sure if I was really going to enjoy candle making once I started, and didn’t want to be stuck with a lot of supplies if I didn’t. Lucky for me I found a way to make candles myself that took all of the guesswork out of the equation, a DIY Soy Candle Kit from Uncommon Goods.

DIY Candle supplies

The DIY Soy Candle Kit came with just enough of everything I needed, including clear instructions. It was perfect! It even came with lavender essential oil, which I was really pleased with, although I have plenty of that here at home, and many others to choose from as well, for future candle making endeavors.

DIY Soy Candle Kit

The instructions made this fun little project so easy, and really quick too! The part that took the longest was waiting for the wax shavings to liquify. Once they were ready, it took hardly anytime at all to pour the candles and place the wicks.

DIY Soy Candle Kit

While the candle wax was cooling and hardening I went ahead and completed the labels that came with the kit. I love that this kit came with printed labels with space for me to write my own name and the date that I made the candles! This gives such a personal touch if giving the candles as a gift, which I plan on doing. I think the gift receivers are going to love them!

candle lids

From start to finish, making my own candles with the DIY Soy Candle Kit from Uncommon Goods took about 24 hours. The actual candle-making part took under an hour from opening the package to setting the candles to cool (I know because I opened the box about 45 minutes before I had to leave the house to pick my sons up from school). The rest of the time was cooling time. So this is a fun and easy project which is made even easier by the fact that all of the supplies are completely ready to go! I loved it! You can find that kit and many more fun personalized gifts on their website.

DIY Soy Candle Kit

A little bit about Uncommon Goods… they are such a cool company! I was introduced to them years ago through their catalog, and it’s always a happy mail day when it arrives in my mailbox because it’s just so much fun to look through. Did you see my post on my Literary Scarf? It is from their Gifts for Women section of the website…so cute! You would not believe how many compliments I get when I wear that scarf.

One of the things that I love the best about Uncommon Goods as a company is that the “Goods” not only refers to the products that they sell, but also the work that they do. Because Uncommon Goods is an independently owned business, they are able to support causes that they believe in. With every purchase, they are proud to donate $1 to your choice of their not-for-profit partner organizations. Since they started their Better to Give program 15 years ago, they have donated over $1,000,000 dollars to charities around the world! That is amazing! And so is the work that the non-profits that receive that support are doing. Here are a couple of those organizations:

Women for Women International: Women for Women International provides survivors of war and other refugee women the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stable self-sufficiency. By creating a safe space to bring women together for learning life, business, and vocational skills, Women for Women International is helping women become independent. Their newly acquired skills not only benefit themselves, but also help build stronger families and communities.

Reach Out & Read: Reach Out & Read is a network of thousands of doctors and nurses working to promote early literacy, language skills, and school readiness to young children in all 50 states. Their methods of integrating children’s books into well-child visits and encouraging parents to read to their children help lay a foundation for early educational success. Reach Out & Read is out newest partner and we are thrilled that over 18,000 customers have already donated to this amazing organization.

Next time your looking for an fun project (like DIY Candles perhaps), or shopping for a gift, visit Uncommon Goods. Support a company that is doing tangible good for others and feel great about where you shop!

Discovering Oxford and searching for Alice.

I was compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own, as are all of my reviews. Thank you for visiting!

Just about two weeks ago my husband and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime, of our lifetimes at least. We hopped a plane or two and crossed an ocean to visit Ireland and England! Neither of us had ever been out of the country before, and got our first passports for this trip. In fact, mine arrived only 3 weeks before we were due to leave, which was cutting it a bit too close for my taste! Thankfully, it got to me in time, the kids went to spend a fun-filled week with the grandparents, and Tom and I went on a grand adventure.

One of the cities that we spent time in was Oxford, England, the city of dreaming spires. It is absolutely magnificent! The history, the architecture, and the tradition are awe-inspiring to say the least.

photo 4-9

Oxford maintains a bit of whimsy as well! Did you know that Oxford is the home of Alice? Lewis Carroll (a pen name) was Charles Dodgson, a maths lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. His famous books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were stories that Charles told to the Dean of Christ Church’s daughter, Alice! Many of the locations in her adventures are based on parts of the college itself. So I went looking for Alice in Oxford and imagined where she might have wandered and played.

The first place was Christ Church Cathedral itself, which is just beautiful. Can you imagine a more beautiful setting to base story books on?

Oxford Uncommon Goods Review

The meadows across the way are populated with deer, and if you explore a bit you’ll find Addison’s walk, where C.S. Lewis liked to walk and think.

Some places were not so obviously found. On my adventure I took Alice with me everywhere I went! I wore my Alice In Wonderland literary scarf from Uncommon Goods Gifts under $50 page! It seemed like there wasn’t a place that could be more fitting to wear it. After all, Oxford is where her adventures started. The weather called for a scarf, and this was just the right thing to wear. The entire scarf is covered with text and images from the book-I love it! It was honestly just what I needed, and if my adventures had taken me elsewhere, I could have chosen from a few other literary scarves. In fact, if I were Alice, I might take a drink from that little bottle and shrink myself down so that I could play in the postcard garden found on this page (in Gifts under $25). How cute is that?

Uncommon Goods Review

Uncommon Goods Literary scarf review

There are other more obvious places to find Alice… she’s quite popular around this town. There’s a quaint little shop called Alice’s Shop where you can find just about anything Alice related, from stationary to jewelry, teapots to tea towels, and books to wall clocks. It really is a cute (very small) shop, and I would have taken a photo of the inside except that they were not permitted, so here’s a shot of me and my Alice scarf in front of Alice’s Shop.

Uncommon Goods Review

Alice's Shop Oxford

Oxford is truly an amazing town. It was hard to decide if I felt stupider by comparison or smarter by osmosis just walking through its streets. It seemed as if everyone there must be highly academic and have some grand goals for their lives. They’re in Oxford, after all! I enjoyed soaking in the sites; the bell towers, cathedrals, spires, canals, lovely old buildings, and eager young faces of the students walking or riding their bicycles past us. I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to explore.

Radcliffe Camera Oxford

Our next adventure takes us to New York City, where Uncommon Goods is based, coincidentally! They were founded in 1999 and are headquartered in Brooklyn, which we just so happen to be visiting during our stay. They’re actually based out of the historic Brooklyn Army terminal, which is so cool. They are such a unique, or should I say uncommon (lol) company, supporting and providing a platform for artists and designers to share their creative work. In fact, one of my friends just so happens to have been one of those designers who Uncommon Goods gave a chance to shine, so I know first hand that they do what they say they do. So if you find yourself in Brooklyn you might want to check in and see about touring because they offer studio tours… how fun would that be? Or just check out their website while you’re doing your holiday shopping.

We saw so much more than Oxford on our trip. I hope to get some photos of our adventures in Ireland posted too. I fell in love with Ireland, even more than I did England.

Have you traveled to Oxford or Ireland before? What is your dream vacation?

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkuerst.

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.

The Best Yes blog tour at www.thesoutherninstitute.com

Does the quote above speak to you in any way? It does me. Maybe this sounds familiar: You have a hard time just being still. Your day consists of you rushing from one thing to the next. You feel guilty taking any time for yourself. When is the last time you just sat and read a book for the fun of it? Before you know it, it’s 11:30 p.m. and you realize that you haven’t even stopped to spend time with God today. You haven’t cracked your Bible open or uttered a word of thanks to Him, outside of the dinner time and bed time prayers that were spoken with your children. The day is ending and you wish you had about 8 more hours because your to-do list is no where nearly checked off and you feel completely drained and empty, falling into bed, exhausted, and yet your mind is still going 100 MPH thinking about what you need to get done tomorrow.

Does any of that sound familiar?

“When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

How has this played out in your life? Does your soul feel underwhelmed? Yes? Here’s the thing…

“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”

Did you see that? It’s an eye opener isn’t it? Life doesn’t just happen to us, at least not the majority of the time. The decisions that we make determine the schedule that we keep. If I haven’t made a point to carve out time with God in the morning then guess what? It ain’t happening, because there is ALWAYS something else fighting for my time and attention. Always. And I let it. And I let it win more often than I should. I’m left overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

This book is about finding your best yes.

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. Because really, when we say yes to everything we are saying no to something, right? Is that implied “no” the very thing that is your best “yes”? I can’t answer that for you, but The Best Yes just might be able to help you figure that out. In The Best Yes Lysa will help you:

-Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
-Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
-Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
-Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

I have not even gotten to the end of this book yet and it’s already got me thinking in a new way. Whenever I read a book from Lysa I feel my soul saying, “Yes! You get me, Lysa. Thank you for putting into words what I haven’t been able to verbalize. Thank you for helping me think through this!”

Here are some more great quotes from The Best Yes:

“We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.”

“We have to put our hearts and our minds in places where wisdom gathers, not scatters.”

“If you desire to please God with the decision you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end.”

“My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.”

“Not making a decision is actually a decision. It’s the decision to stay the same.”

New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst’s new book is about finding your Best Yes. Many call this book “inspiring” and “fabulous.” I call it a game-changer. Go grab a copy here, I’m going to go read my Bible. ;)