Growing up, we had one pink pillar candle in our living room which was almost never lit. The one time that I remember my mom putting it in the bathroom and lighting it, I snuck over to stare at the flame. I started to wonder how close I could get to it, but I was afraid to burn myself. I somehow came up with the brilliant idea to get a piece of toilet paper and swirl it in a circle around the flame. With each revolution, I brought the toilet paper a little closer to the flame until it finally caught on fire. I panicked and threw the flaming TP into the toilet and flushed. To this day, my mom still doesn’t know that I almost set the bathroom (and the house) on fire. That experience was enough to teach me not to mess with fire.
In elementary school, friendship pins were the thing. They were blissfully easy to make: take a safety pin, add beads, give to friends to put on shoes, backpacks, and anywhere else you could stick a pin.
In middle school, handmade friendship bracelets were all the rage. Everyone, boys and girls alike, learned how to knot the hell out of embroidery thread. I had a huge jar of pennies that I used to anchor the bracelets as I made the slanty bracelets and the arrow designs for everyone I knew.
In high school, friendship bracelets became passe and everyone began wearing manufactured bracelets by brands like Gotcha. If they were too big (I always had tiny wrists), the solution was to light a match and shrink the ends. Thus my love of fire was inadvertently reawakened.
My mom let me have a potpourri burner in my room but was always paranoid when I had it lit. If only she knew that I used every opportunity I had to legitimately burn things. I had mini fire ceremonies. Remember that Valentine’s Day episode of Friends where Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe almost burn down their apartment because they were burning stuff from their ex-boyfriends? I used to do that on the Hibachi in our backyard.
In college, a girl who lived down the hall from me in the dorms almost burned out building down. She was burning incense and somehow set her stereo on fire, then tried to put it out with her hands which resulted in the fire department evacuating our entire building until midnight the night before classes started. She had some pretty bad burns on her hands, and our entire floor got a lecture from the RA about how we were not allowed to burn ANYTHING in our rooms.
After college, I got over my fear of burning down an entire dorm and resumed my fascination with fire. I’m sure having an Illuminations store at every mall didn’t hurt. I loved all the scented candles. The fruity ones were my favorite: pear, peach, pineapple, strawberry, blackberry.
But I was an equal opportunity fire lover, so I was also willing to burn unscented tea lights. I’m the kind of girl who bought the hundred pack of tea lights at Ikea. Maybe because of my first experience with fire, I was never into pillar candles. I preferred having my fire contained so I always bought jar candles or put tea lights inside a glass holder.
Next came my love of Yankee Candles. Their large jar candles are about twice as tall as the Illuminations jar candles I had, which I assumed meant they would last longer.
I didn’t know until earlier this year that Yankee Candle owned Illuminations. I only found out because I tried to access the Illuminations website and got an error message. I thought I had misspelled Illuminations in my haste so I carefully typed in the URL again and got the same error message. What the hell? I did a little googling and learned that Illumunations had gone out of business. All the stores had been closed. The website and mail order business were gone. Even though I no longer shopped at Illuminations anymore, I was so shocked. Who else is going to send me a Halloween catalog full of candles shaped like witches and ghosts every October?
As the old saying goes, we always want what we can’t have and suddenly what I wanted more than anything was one of those special sets of wick trimming scissors I used to see near the cash registers at Illuminations. Since Illuminations was gone, I reasoned that their parents company, Yankee Candle, would also sell these scissors but that proved to be untrue. After some google-fu, I found Wickman, the company that manufactures and sells this awesome product.
So why are these scissors so great, you ask? A large Yankee Candle jar is about 5.5″ tall but the diameter of the opening is only 3″ wide. They are supposed to burn a total of 100-150 hours (yes, that’s quite a gap in the range) so depending on how often you burn candles, one jar candle can last you anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. As the candle burns down, it gets harder and harder to trim the wick down to the recommended 1/8″ (which helps the candle burn better and prevents you from getting scorch marks inside the jar).
At first, regular scissors will do the trick, but eventually it turns into blindly snipping away and hoping you don’t make a huge gauge in the wax or cut the wick all the way down to a nub.
Enter the Wickman candle trimmer! It’s really just a modified pair of scissors, but those little changes make a huge difference.
First the scissors are angled so you can get the end of the scissors deep into a jar.
Next the end of the scissors have a nice little circular area to catch the burnt wick after you cut it off so that it doesn’t end up floating in cool wax.
This is definitely not a product that will change the world, but it’s pretty awesome for anyone who burns jar candles regularly and knows what a pain in the ass it is to deal with awkward attempts at cutting the wick down to size.
The scissors are made of steel so they’ll last forever, even if you keep throwing them back into a drawer like I do. Wickman also makes a few other candle accessories (an old fashioned candle snuffer for tapered candles and a wick dipper for pillar or jar candles to, duh, dip the wick which puts out the flame without any smoking or smoldering), so you can also get the wick trimmer in a package with the other products if you have tons of candle-related needs.
I thought I’d eventually outgrow my candle phase, but we have long power outages (sometimes lasting more than a day) at least twice a year, so we have flashlights stashed in every room of the house and a large supply of candles and matches always ready for action. I also have my really awesome destinkifying candle which I burn after we cook anything with a strong smell (fish, french fries, etc.) and whenever one of the neighborhood baby skunks happens to freak out in the vicinity of our yard.
As a kid, I’d encountered skunk smell occasionally, but usually from quite a distance so although I realized it was a stinky smell, I didn’t know how powerful skunk odor can be. The first time I experienced it up close and personal, I was almost in tears. I’d never fully understood that people can really be knocked over by a scent. It was so blindingly overwhelming that I got a headache within a few minutes. I tried to tough it out but I ended up having to leave because the smell was so painful.
I have tried several different candles and products that claim to eliminate or neutralize odors, but nothing does the job like White Chocolate Mint by Yankee Candle. The other products either have a distinct smell (often citrus or some kind of chemical fabric softener scent), which I don’t like because I want to get rid of the odor, not cover it up. And although I like citrus, there are too many cleaning products with obnoxiously fake citrus scents (lemon Pine-Sol comes to mind) that smelling most citrus-scented products makes me think of a combination of children’s aspirin, industrial strength bathroom cleaner, and orange Tic Tacs. In other words, BARF. I really love the smell of fresh fabric softener on my sheets, but other products that claim to smell like fabric softener have a harsh chemical undertone to them or are way too strong (including the Yankee Candle Good Air odor eliminating candle). I tried the Yankee Candle Peppermint Cocoa candle thinking it might have the same effect, but it’s just not the same.
There’s something about the white chocolate that tempers the mint and creates a cool clean scent and gets rid of any stinkiness (as opposed to just dumping a strong scent on top of whatever stinks). It’s only available around Christmas, so I stock up once a year. They now only make it in a large jar (no more small or medium jar sizes, tealights, votives, or tarts), which is fine with me since that size throws the most scent. If you want the house to smell clean without smelling like air freshener, then get some White Chocolate Mint before the holiday stash sells out!