Curbly Original
Make It: DIY Stylish Mountain Bookends

by Stephanie Lee

Make it: Sweet DIY mountain bookends for your little one's nursery

Now that I have a little one to care for, I’ve come to realize just how wonderful story time can be. Sharing books with Lauren is one of my favorite pastimes… especially the books that I used to read when I was a kid (those are my favorites!). Of course, with a well-stocked bookshelf comes the need for some nice bookends to hold everything in place. So I decided to whip up these pretties for bubba’s room, and they’re so easy to make, I just had to share these DIY mountain bookends with you too!              

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Curbly Original
Make It: Pine and Balsa Wood Tealight Holders

by Stephanie Lee
DIY wood tea light holders

I don't know about you, but the change in seasons always inspires me to pull out my candles for a little outdoor entertaining. In Australia it's now spring, but I'm just the same come autumn - I love being outside in the evenings during the milder months when the weather isn't too hot or cold; the night air is fresh and the sun goes down at just the right time for us to enjoy a candlelit dinner (ha, I'm such a romantic). If you love candles as much as I do, click through to make some tealight holders of your own!

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Curbly Original
Make This: DIY Incense Holder, Plus the Lowdown on Aromatherapy

DIY clay incense holder

One of my favorite things about the autumn months is coming home at night and snuggling by the heater under warm blankets with candles or incense burning in the background. The heavenly scents help me to unwind after a long day at work, and incense holders are so easy to make that there's no excuse not to have a stick or two burning away while you cozy up and get stuck into that good book. Click through to learn how to make your own DIY incense holder, and head to the bottom of the post for more information about the benefits of incense!        

Alternative shot of DIY incense holder

Watch our video to see how easy it is to make this DIY incense holder, and keep reading for all the details.

  DIY Clay Incense Holder

Clay incense holder - Materials



Clay incense holder - rolling clay

 Roll your clay out until it's around 1/4 inch thick.



Clay incense holder - cutting out clay circle

 Place a small bowl face down on the clay and using a scalpel, cut around it to create a clay circle. Then place the circle into your bowl, pressing down lightly to mold it into a bowl shape.

shaping bowl



neatening edges

Use a knife to neaten the edges of your incense holder, and then dip your fingers in a bit of water and smooth out the surface so it's free of cracks and ditches.

smoothing surface



rolling small ball


 Leave your bowl to air dry according to the clay manufacturer's instructions. While you're waiting for that to happen, roll some of your leftover clay into a small ball. 

Use a skewer to poke a hole in the top of the ball. Get one of your incense sticks and make sure it fits in the hole you created. Then leave the clay ball to air dry, preferably overnight.



gluing ball to bowl

gluing ball to bowl

 Once your clay bowl and ball have both air dried, use strong craft glue or super glue to affix the ball to the bowl. 



paint splattering

Dip a paintbrush in black acrylic paint and start splattering your incense holder by flinging downwards with your brush over the clay. I didn't want my splatter drops to be too big, so I didn't put too much paint on my brush and I tried to splatter from up high so the drops were smaller. This gets messy so its best to do this outdoors or somewhere where you don't mind getting paint everywhere!



Once the paint has dried, give your incense holder a couple of coats of varnish to protect the paint work and give it a gloss shine. 

DIY clay incense holder

DIY clay incense holder

DIY paint-splattered incense holder
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Benefits of Burning Incense

There are lots of reasons to make an incense holder to burn some incense in. Your sense of smell is closely related to the part of your brain that stores memories. As such, different aromas and scents can trigger some pretty comforting, happy thoughts. Specific smells can even encourage relaxation, increase motivation, and stimulate creativity

How Different Scents Can Affect Mood

Instructables incense holder
Source:  Instructables

Incense comes in a variety of scents and blends. Of course, you can burn incense for the pleasant odor and aesthetic -- however, if you're looking to reap specific benefits from your incense, here's what to seek out:

  • Sandalwood, frankincense, and cedarwood | Warm and woody, these scents are great for meditation, as they have a calming aroma.
  • Nag Champa | It's the kind in the blue box that we all know well, and it's actually a combination of ingredients. Sandalwood mixed with frangipani (a type of flower) will help you relax and find clarity.
  • Lavender, chamomile, and vetiver | These three aromas provide relief for those with insomnia or problems resting, as they are relaxing and can make you drowsy.
  • Rosemary | This sharp, woodsy scent also aids in relaxation, but additionally can help with muscle tension as it increases circulation.
  • Citrus, lemongrass, and ylang-ylang | These bright scents are uplifting, bringing focus and clarity while inspiring creativity.
  • Rose and patchouli | These two heavy scents have been known to raise serotonin levels in the brain, which causes feelings of happiness and lessens depression and anxiety.

 Our Favorite DIY Incense Holders

If you are on the hunt for a heartfelt gift to give a friend or family member, or if you want to burn incense in your own home, a handmade incense stick display is a great option. Here are some of our favorites:

Sugar & Cloth | DIY Incense Holder
Source: Sugar & Cloth
The Merrythought wooden incense holder
Source: The Merrythought

And, if you're interested in making your own unique incense sticks, check out this article from Wild Turmeric.

Where to Buy Incense

So, are you ready to hop on board the aromatherapy-train? If so, you'll have to start by getting your hands on some incense sticks! There are plenty of big box stores that will likely have them in stock: Walgreens, Whole Foods, The Dollar Store, Fred Meyer, and Wal-Mart, to name a few.

If you're looking for unique scents and lots of options, try your local food cooperative, natural foods store, or gift boutique.

Of course, the internet is going to provide your biggest selection of options. Check Etsy for every scent you could ever imagine, and even create your own combination packs. P.F. Candle Co., known for their outstanding and one-of-a-kind scents, also offers their fragrances incense-stick form.

And finally, stores like Urban Outfitters and Free People have joined in on the incense bandwagon, offering lots of scents in their stores and online.

Incense holder

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Curbly Original
Make It: Minimal Wood Desk Organizer

by Stephanie Lee

This wood desk organizer is modern, minimal, and surprisingly easy to make (even if your woodworking game is totally weak). Read on for step-by-step instructions on making your own, and getting your desktop all tidied up!

wood desk organizer DIY - minimal and modern

On any given day, if you visit our house you'll find envelopes and papers strewn all over the place because we're not yet ready to file them away. Okay, I'll admit, sometimes we're just being lazy, but for the most...

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Curbly Original
IKEA Lighting Hack: Make a Pendant Light Out of a $6 Bowl!

by Stephanie Lee

IKEA lighting hack: Make a pendant light out of a $6 bowl!

I have a love-hate relationship with light fittings. I totally get that they can transform  the look of a room, but I've put off changing ours for aaaages because the ones I love best are always out of my budget. And when it comes to the crunch, I can't justify spending $150+ on a pretty light fixture when there are bills to be paid! That's where this IKEA lighting hack comes in.              

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Round Up: 8 Great Indoor Plants that you Totally Won't Kill

by Stephanie Lee
Alt text
Photo: The Blackbird

As I'm sure we're all aware by now, I have the world's WORST brown thumb. I've been known to commit plantslaughter with hardy creatures like mint and calathea that other people swear are impossible to kill. So I thought I'd put together a list of the plants that have shared a house with me and survived against all odds. I consider them my 'go-to hardy houseplants' - if they've thrived with me and my brown thumb, then they can live through anything!


Photo: Make and Tell

1. Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum nephthytis)

My parents and brother have given me a LOT of plants over the years in an attempt to cure my impossible brown thumb. I've killed every single one except my dear old Arrowhead plant. This fellow has been totally fine with my low light conditions and inconsistent watering; it'll even tell me when it's thirsty by drooping and then it'll perk right back up as soon as it's gotten a good drink.

Arrowheads like to climb, so I've taken a few cuttings off it to stop it from travelling too far and those cuttings have developed roots so now I have more of the little guys. Best indoor plant ever.

Photo: HGTV

2. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

I've always been a big fan of the peace lily. They have such deep green foliage, lovely white flowers and they're pretty darn hardy for an indoor plant. We used to have them in our office and they were great in conditions with low natural light and sparse watering. Like the arrowhead, it tells you when it's thirsty by wilting... once you water it, it'll be as good as new. You gotta love plants that communicate right?

Photo: Design Sponge

3. Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans massangeana)

When I made a couple of DIY plant boxes last year, I got myself two plants; a maidenhair fern and a corn plant. I managed to damage the maidenhair within a few months (it's not entirely dead, but looking a lot less like it used to).

The corn plant, on the other hand has sprouted new leaves and sits there happily looking even better than the day I first bought it. This plant is as easy as they come - it sits in low light, I water it irregularly, never fertilise it and it rewards me by growing extra leaves and being beautifully green. This is my dream plant, I tell you! 

Photo: Crab and Fish

4. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

This one is a recent addition to my plant collection and it's one I instantly fell in love with because plant care doesn't get much easier than this!

The ZZ plant is originally from Africa and therefore built to withstand drought, so it doesn't at all mind when I forget to water it (sometimes for up to three weeks!). It handles low light brilliantly and hasn't required any fertilising or pruning. In fact, it doesn't change much at all - unlike my other plants which shift and grow, this one has barely moved. That's okay - as long as it doesn't die, I'm a happy gal.

Photo: The Blackbird

5. Heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens)

My parents have had this plant in their kitchen ever since I was a young thing, but I didn't realise exactly how easy they were to take care of until I arrived to my first day at work and saw people growing them from cuttings in fluorescent lighting with minimal water and very little soil!

Of course, I wouldn't recommend those conditions and I'm not sure where those plants were getting their natural light from, but needless to say they were some of the hardiest plants I've ever seen. I'm going to steal a few cuttings from my mum this weekend so I can make a hanging basket for my garden (they hang beautifully!).

Photo: World of Succulents

6. Ripple Jade succulent (Crassula arborescens subsp. undulatifolia)

One day in December, I went to the florist to get an 'alternative' Christmas tree for my desk and they had a cutting of the Ripple Jade sitting in water. Its leaves were a beautiful muted green and I just knew it would look gorgeous draped in silver beads. As I was buying it, the florist said I should keep it in water for awhile - it would develop roots and then I could plant it. And so it did!

To this day, I still consider this my best purchase from a florist ever. Instead of buying flowers that I'd have to throw away, I got a succulent that's still alive to this day and growing right out of its little white pot. It requires very little from me - just a bit of water every now and then, and a good lighted position. Win! 

Photo: Idle Hands Awake

7. Air plants (Tillandsia)

I feel like this is sort of cheating, but despite having no roots, air plants are still plants and they're one of my favourite things to buy and look after.

If you're looking for a no-fuss way to add some green to your home, then this is it guys. You can buy these fellows big or small and they can be put pretty much anywhere, from wall hangings, to fridge magnets, to display bowls - the sky's the limit! I've got some in a hanging basket and a few in nooks and crannies around my studio... all I have to do is remember to give them a good soak every week (sometimes I've left it for two weeks...shhh!) and they're happy as Larry. 

Photo: Wikihow

8. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

I've never seen a plant take so much rough handling from me as my dear aloe vera (to be honest, I reckon it gives as good as it gets with those sharp thorns). I've pulled it in and out of containers, neglected to water it, left it out in the sun (and sometimes forgotten to put it in the sun), never fertilised it or fed it in any way. And yet it thrives! I'm going to take some of its pups and put them in smaller containers soon and then I'll have even more of these hardy little guys - yay!


Pinterest Graphic should have some alt text!


It's probably a good idea to note at this stage that this is my personal experience with the plants outlined above and not in any way an endorsement of how you should treat your leafy friends!

All of the species above have proper care instructions including how often to water and when to propogate, prune and feed... I just thought it would be helpful to share how well I've faired with these plants and how easy they are to maintain, even with my severely poor plant parenting skills. If I can't kill them then chances are, you'll do just fine too. :)

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