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Old Thumbwick Candles Newsletters

This page highlights some the best articles from our old email newsletters. These old newsletters were written and distributed by me when I ran Thumbwick Candles, my home soy candle business. I have quoted the sources of my information where applicable. You are free to borrow these articles providing you:
1) reference Margaret Palecek, Thumbwick Candles as the original author,
2) provide a link back to my website, and
3) preserve all referenced sources and links within the article.

March 2007


Are you thinking about your garden yet?


This year we are growing soybeans for the first time. They grow similar to bush beans, but have a longer time to maturity of the beans. They are known as Edamame to the Japanese, and are eaten as a snack. The whole pods are boiled, and eaten by squeezing the pods which ejects the beans. A recipe can be found here:

Edamame are extremely tasty and packed with protein, vitamins A, B, potassium and calcium as well. The variety we are growing is called Green Pearls (Hakucho) from Burpee seed company. They are starting to sprout after only seven days. I’ve noticed that you can’t keep the seedlings too moist or they will start to mold. I’ve also read that they don’t transplant well, so I’ve held back half the seeds to sow directly in the soil when the weather is warm, which will also give us a longer harvest season. 


Are you the kind of person who loves gardening so much that you wish you could just make a living at it? Take a look at this website, to see what one man has done. His website is extremely interesting to read and loaded with free gardening information. I never realized before that I could just take cuttings from my existing shrubs to grow more shrubs for my yard, and even to give to my family and friends. What a great, money-saving idea.


Give your home and yourself a new outlook – Reduce clutter


We recently gave our living room a mini-makeover. We straightened the built-in bookshelf, removed the books and knick-knacks from the top of the entertainment center, and replaced them with a simple candle holder arrangement. We re-arranged the pictures on the walls to be more eye-pleasing. We moved a cabinet from its old cramped location between the sofa and the piano, put a simple table in its place, and used that cabinet against a far wall to hold the stereo, old records and some magazines instead. Then we added an art-deco shelf on the wall above the stereo to neatly hold our CD collection and some carefully selected display objects, and got rid of all the extra magazines we wouldn’t read. The only new items added to the room were the shelf above the stereo and a new oriental rug to replace an old worn out rug. Otherwise the other changes were all reorganization to reduce clutter. Afterward the room had an entirely different feel. It felt more relaxed and inviting, and when we were in the room WE felt more relaxed. The change was actually quite striking.


Take a look around your home and see where you can reduce clutter. Aim towards creating more open space and simplicity. Remove large groups of knick-knacks and replace them with small groupings and single focal pieces.  You may be surprised at the change you feel when you create more harmony in your environment. Here are a couple websites to get you started with some frugal ideas:

Google the search term “reduce clutter” to find other helpful tips.



January 2007


Make your New Year’s Resolution to the Environment

In 2007 why not resolve to make a small difference in preserving our natural environment. Here are some ideas to get you started. Together we can all make a huge difference.


  • If you are thinking about buying a new vehicle, why not look at the new hybrids, or think of getting a vehicle that will run on Ethanol fuel.
  • Turn your thermostat down a couple degrees in the winter, and throw on a sweater. Not only will it conserve energy, it will make a noticeable difference in your heat bill as well. Don’t forget to keep the house a couple degrees warmer in the summer to use less A/C or central air energy.
  • Switch to eco-friendly products in your home, like laundry detergent and household cleaners which don’t contain chlorine, phosphates and other dangerous chemical substances. These toxins enter the atmosphere and waterways, causing both environmental and wildlife destruction. Also look for cleaners that don’t contain added fragrances or dyes. Companies like Seventh Generation, Aubrey Organics and Natural Value are examples of companies that offer environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives. The following link has information about environmentally-friendly cleaning products and recipes: Not only are these products better for the environment, they are also better for your family’s health. Don’t forget about buying soy wax candles too!
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle. You’ve heard it a million times, but now make a conscious effort to reduce waste, reuse items whenever possible and recycle plastic, glass and aluminum. Think about joining a “free-cycle” group (just use the search term freecycle to find one near you) to find people who can use your old appliances, clothing and household items, instead of sending them to the landfill.


November 2006


Soap vs. Detergent

What are the benefits of using natural soap on your skin?

Much of what we think of as “soap” is actually detergent. It is often labeled as a “beauty bar”, “cleansing bar”, etc. Detergents and soaps are both surfactants (that is, they are chemicals that effectively cut the surface tension to allow the water to spread and soak into a surface). True soaps are made with natural products (fat, either vegetable or animal and lye) and require very little energy in the production process. Detergents are made from synthetic chemicals (although some of their ingredients may be natural). Most detergents are made from petrochemicals, because they are less costly.  Some newer, environmentally friendly laundry detergents are made from oleochemicals, which are fats and oils, like coconut or other plant based surfactants, and are a renewable resource. The main gist of all of this is that detergents made with synthetic petrochemicals are often heavily fragranced to cover the unpleasant smell. They also contain preservatives and antibacterial agents to prevent spoiling. All of these things can cause allergic reactions, or skin sensitivity. In addition to that, the solvents and grease strippers often found in a “beauty bar”, can remove the skin’s natural oils from even the lower layers of skin, and leave your skin feeling dry, tight and itchy. True soap gently cleans only the top layer of your skin, leaving the natural oils intact to let your skin protect and repair itself the way it is supposed to. Many people who have eczema, dermatitis or dry skin, are really just using too many harsh cleansers that irritate and over dry their skin. Try a natural, vegetable based soap for yourself. You’ll notice the difference right away.


Are there any drawbacks to using soap? Why would I ever use a detergent?

Soaps and detergents behave differently in hard water. Soaps can form a scum in hard water and this scum will not rinse away easily. Detergents react less to minerals in hard water and do not leave this residue. This difference is minimized considerably with soft water.



July 2006


What can you do with a glass jar?

Recently we purchased some glass jars that don’t work for the use we intended. With shipping prices what they are, by the time we paid to send them back for a refund, we might as well have bought them anyway. That got me to thinking: What other uses are there for a 15 oz. glass jar? I did some research, and I thought I’d share the ideas that I found with you.


1.  Decoupage family pictures on the outside of the jar, fill with candy, give to grandma:

2.  Fill with layered colorful beans and lentils, plus a packet of spices to give as a healthy soup recipe. Add a pretty ribbon and cooking instructions to the top.

3.  Grow your own sprouts. Cut a new sponge the diameter of the jar bottom and place in jar. Moisten sponge and spread radish or alfalfa seeds on it. Place in a warm, bright area, but not in direct sunlight. Leave the top open to let in air, and keep sponge and seedlings moist with a spray bottle. When sprouts are ready, pull them all off the sponge, rinse well and eat or refrigerate. Plant a new crop of seeds on a new or sterilized sponge.

4.  Decorate it with pressed, dried flowers:

5.  Fill it with bath salts, cotton balls, tea bags, dried rice, pasta, nuts, well you get the idea – but not altogether

6.  Build an eco jar:



MAY 2006


Why we don’t use essential oils in our candles:

People who enjoy scented candles want them to scent strong enough to fully appreciate the fragrance. We have found that essential oils just don’t have as good of a fragrance diffusing ability as synthetic fragrance oils do.


Aromatherapy is defined as “The use of selected fragrant substances in lotions and inhalants in an effort to affect mood and promote health.” It is believed that the aroma of certain essential oils directly stimulates the brain or that the oils are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, where they can affect the whole body. Aromatherapy benefits from essential oils are gained by the oils either being absorbed by the skin, ingested or inhaled, but the amount of fragrance released by a candle scented with essential oils would not be enough to produce true aromatherapy benefits.  That is why we have chosen to use synthetic fragrance oils, including those that replicate certain essential oils, in our soy candles. We use synthetic fragrance oils that have the least amount of petroleum-based solvents possible, by choosing fragrances with a soybean oil base. Our scented candles release aromas that can have pleasing psychological effects on the body and mind. This is referred to as Aromachology – a blending of the words "aroma" and "physio-psychology" – which is the study of the influence of odors on behavior.



March 2006


Candle displays aren’t just for pillar candles.

You can jazz up your jar or tin candles in a similar manner. Don’t just burn a candle – make it a focal piece in your room. Here are some ideas for creating beautiful candle displays with your scented soy jar or tin candles from Thumbwick Candles:


-   Cover a plate or platter with a layer of fine sand, add several 16 oz. scented soy jar and/or 6 oz. tin candles with coordinating scents, and arrange polished river stones in the sand for a peaceful Zen rock garden arrangement.

-   Fill a shallow bowl with 1 – 2” of water, set a 16 oz. scented soy jar candle in the center, and float fresh flowers or rose petals on the surface of the surrounding water. The reflection of candlelight off the water is stunning.

-   Shape a grapevine or a floral swag into a circle to surround the base of a 16 oz. scented soy jar candle, for a simple, yet beautiful centerpiece.

-   Arrange several jar and tin candles down a table runner. Using the current season or holiday as a guide, arrange items among the candles to create a festive table display. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

·         For Spring: Small plush toy chicks, ducks and bunnies; decorated Easter eggs; small vases of tulips and daffodils; even candy strewn around or in small dishes.

·         For Summer: American flags; seashells; mini bouquets of flowers in vases; fresh fruit.

·         For Fall:  Leaves; gourds; pine cones; ghost and goblin figurines; candy corn; school supplies; children’s class pictures in tiny frames.

·         For Winter: Pine boughs; pretty Christmas ornaments; candies or cookies; crocheted or paper snowflakes; strings of popcorn or dried cranberries.


July 2005


Summer Bug Problems: Some home remedies to tackle houseplant and garden pests.

Insecticidal Soap for house or garden plants:

I have an English Ivy houseplant that began going downhill about four years ago. Many of the leaves dried up, and then began falling off. Upon close inspection, the leaves were covered with fine cobwebs and tiny little white dots. I posted a question to an online plant expert and was told that my ivy had a severe case of spider mites. I was told to keep it very moist, but that I would probably lose it. At the same time I read about a simple homemade plant insecticide in my Cheapskate Monthly newsletter: 

Mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with one quart of water and put in a spray bottle.

I decided a two-pronged attack would be best. I carried my ivy outside and sprayed it thoroughly with the hose. Then I mixed the above recipe and sprayed the plant all over, including the undersides of all the leaves. I won, and the spider mites lost. To this day I still have a beautiful, healthy ivy.


For keeping mosquitoes down in the yard try these suggestions:

*borrowed from

Mix 1 cup each of Listerine™, liquid dish soap, and water. Add 2 cups lemon

juice [i.e. bottled from concentrate]. Spray on lawn and around plants. Apply in the morning and if it rains, reapply. Otherwise, treat lawn once every two weeks. Burn citronella candles around badly infested areas and patios where you sit. Remove any items with standing water. A bird bath must be emptied and cleaned at least twice a week. Kill mosquito larvae in ponds by sprinkling in plain powdered coffee or tea, just enough to change the color of the water. Caffeine makes mosquito larvae uncoordinated, and they can't come to the surface to breathe.




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