Illuminating Your Life With Candles


I clearly recall the very first time I walked into an Illuminations store and was awestruck by the experience. It was like entering a magical world lit totally by candlelight, with the exception of a few overhead track lights that were dimmed.

I was still living in Orlando, Florida at the time, when Illuminations opened a store in the mall which I worked. My dear friend Diana and I were immediately addicted because the two of us are CANDLE CRAZED. We had a weekly ritual where we would dash over to Illuminations on our lunch hour to see what new merchandise they got in, and would inevitably buy something.

I bought my very first indoor Zen water fountain from Illuminations. It was a company that not only offered high-quality candles, but also wall sconces, unique candle holders, small accent tables, and candlelit chandeliers. The fabulousness of Illuminations was not just in the merchandise they sold, but in how they presented it. They believed that candlelight was a way to illuminate your life with beauty. They didn't just sell products, they sold an experience.


Shortly after moving back to Philadelphia in 2001, I ended up getting a part time job working nights at an Illuminations that was located only a few blocks from where I lived. And you have no idea how proud and honored I was to work for them, since I had been such a HUGE fan for so many years. Ironically enough, that part time job turned into a management position, after the previous manager decided to take a job closer to her home in the suburbs.

I managed the store for about a year before the company went out of business and began slowly closing stores all over the States; mine of which was one of the first to go because of the extremely high rent to keep it open. And can I just tell you how sad it was? I wasn't sad because I was losing a job, because I had been offered another position with a cosmetic company. I was sad because Illuminations would eventually be no more. For several years they continued to sell their candles and merchandise from their online website in Petaluma, California, but it just wasn't the same as going to one of their stores and experiencing them. Presently, I think you can only purchase them on eBay and Amazon. But the selection is minimal.

*sigh*

Anyway, I wanted to share some images I found online (many of which are from the book you see above by Wally Arnold, founder of Illuminations), and how candlelight has the ability to create a special ambiance.

So tonight, light some candles; grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine with some cheese; turn on your favorite relaxing music, and experience the magic of illumination.

And here's to you, Wally!









Happy Monday, y'all!
X

42 comments

  1. OMG!!! I would have been in LOVE!!! I totally LIVE for ambiance lighting!! You would feel right at home here at my house!! We have all kinds of Zen lighting and candles of every size and color! We even had a bubble lamp that was HUGE...it stood about four feet tall!! Sadly, my bubble lamp bit the dust about a year ago...but that store sounds like a FAB place! My kind of store!! It's really sad that stores like that don't exist much anymore. It seems many of those types of "boutiques" are going by the wayside. I do spend a LOT of time on Amazon searching for cool lighting though! I bought my husband a remote nightlight for Christmas that lights up in any one of like eight different colors...and you can change the duration, or the color with the remote! It's just a teeny little remote, but it is so CUTE!! It's awesome!! Happy Monday Ron!! xo Jeanne and the girlz

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  2. Isn't that the fashion now, all the best shops are disappearing. Shopping never will be the same again.


    Sigh! I would love the experience of dining by candlelight, somewhere in the vein of that last picture. Sigh! Until recently the only candlelight I got to see was from one solitary candle in a jar, that is when I lit it... it was one of those perfumed ones and the smell was NOT one I like. It made me feel quite sick. I prefer a candle to smell like a candle - the smell adds to the ambience of a place. Big son's partner did make me a candle which she gave me for Christmas, not pretty to look at but it smells right. But a lone candle is such a waste, it deserves more to keep it company and make me feel good. Our bungalow is quite restricting, though, we don't have shelving to speak of and not too many 'safe' places to put a candle.


    Loved this post, Ron. Hope you have a great week x

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  3. I had never heard of that store, Ron. I would have enjoyed it, for sure. The photos are magical. There is nothing more romantic than eating in a restaurant by candlelight. And I love it when I go to someone's home and they have a candle burning in the bathroom. One of my favorite ways to burn a candle is to stick a small vanilla candle in a glass bowl of fresh coffee beans. The combo is smells soooo good.

    Happy Monday!

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  4. Rob LenihanJanuary 12, 2015

    Hey, Ron, there is nothing like the look, feel, and power of candlelight. It seems to connect us to our past and even to some mystical realm that we can't quite name.


    My church has real candles that you can light as you offer up prayers and it is infinitely better than the electric "candles" I've seen in some churches. Candles bring us closer to God--as opposed to just switching on a light.


    No offense, Thomas Edison, but I'll always love candles. Thanks so much for posting these great photos and for sharing that wonderful story about Illuminations. Sorry they went out of business, but let's keep lighting those candles.


    Take care, buddy!

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  5. How beautiful and illuminating! I love the ambiance of candlelight. Unless for the dinner table I usually purchase candles with scent, especially sandalwood.

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  6. Ron, as soon as I read your post title on my reader I knew I was going to love this post because I'm candle crazed too. Some people collect stamps, I collect candles Lol! I've got candles in every room in my apartment, some are scented others are unscented. If I do purchased scented candles, I like the ones that are naturally scented with essential oils. I get a lot of my candles from Bath and Body Works.


    I've never heard of Illuminations but know I would have enjoyed shopping there. Gorgeous photographs! The last one is my favorite. Such ambiance!


    Have a wonderful week, Ron x

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  7. Hello there Jeanne!

    "I totally LIVE for ambiance lighting!! You would feel right at home here at my house!! We have all kinds of Zen lighting and candles of every size and color!"

    That sounds wonderful! You know, I had a feeling you loved candles too! I know that you used to work at Bath and Body Works and they have some of the greatest candles!

    "t's really sad that stores like that don't exist much anymore. It seems many of those types of "boutiques" are going by the wayside."

    Yes, you're right. I think what happened with Illuminations was that they grew too fast in such a short period of time, that the company over-extending themselves by opening too many stores. They should have stayed more exclusive.

    "...and you can change the duration, or the color with the remote! It's just a teeny little remote, but it is so CUTE!! It's awesome!!"



    OMG, that IS awesome!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a Monday and week!
    X to you and the girlz

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  8. Good morning Valerie!

    "Isn't that the fashion now, all the best shops are disappearing. Shopping never will be the same again."

    Amen! And it's the same way here in the States. I think a lot of it has to do with online shopping because people are shopping less and less in stores.

    " I would love the experience of dining by candlelight, somewhere in the vein of that last picture. Sigh!"

    Isn't that last shot stunning? That's one of the photographs from Wally Arnold's book.

    " it was one of those perfumed ones and the smell was NOT one I like. It made me feel quite sick. I prefer a candle to smell like a candle - the smell adds to the ambience of a place."

    Me too! I prefer candles to smell natural. I don't care for "food-smelling" candles. My favorite candles from Illumination were the ones that were scented in lavender, eucalyptus, bamboo, and green grass. OMG...they were heavenly!

    "Our bungalow is quite restricting, though, we don't have shelving to speak of and not too many 'safe' places to put a candle."



    I live in a small studio, so I know exactly what you mean. I light a lot of small tea lights and place them around my apartment.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, dear lady. Have a lovely week!
    X to you and Joe!

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  9. OMG, you would have LOVED this store! Aren't the photos faaabulous?

    "There is nothing more romantic than eating in a restaurant by candlelight. And I love it when I go to someone's home and they have a candle burning in the bathroom."

    YES to both of those! I think candlelight makes everything feel more beautiful. And it's funny you mentioned a candle burning in the bathroom because I have a wall sconce (which I got from Illuminations) that holds a single tea light inside, which gives a beautiful glow!

    "One of my favorite ways to burn a candle is to stick a small vanilla candle in a glass bowl of fresh coffee beans. The combo is smells soooo good."



    OMG...sounds AMAZING! What a great idea!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend Have a super week!
    X

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  10. " It seems to connect us to our past and even to some mystical realm that we can't quite name."

    Yes, Rob, you said that so perfectly! You're right, candlelight is mystical!

    "My church has real candles that you can light as you offer up prayers and it is infinitely better than the electric "candles" I've seen in some churches. Candles bring us closer to God--as opposed to just switching on a light."

    I agree! I remember being a kid and going to church on Sunday mornings and being entranced by the REAL candles of which you speak. The last time I was in a church, I saw that they had replaced them with those electrical ones and thought, " Bummer!"

    "No offense, Thomas Edison, but I'll always love candles."



    Amen, Rob!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week!
    X

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  11. " Unless for the dinner table I usually purchase candles with scent, especially sandalwood."


    I agree, Suzi, I prefer unscented candles while eating because I think scented candles interfere with tasting the food. And OMG...sandalwood is one of my favorites! I like candles that smell more natural and earthy.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a fantabulous week!
    X

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  12. Hola Denise!

    " Some people collect stamps, I collect candles Lol!"

    HA! OMG, how funny! My friend Diana is the same way. She's got such a cute house and has candles everywhere! She used to host parties in her backyard and would candles all over the place; creating a beautiful ambiance.

    "I like the ones that are naturally scented with essential oils. I get a lot of my candles from Bath and Body Works."

    I'm the same way. I prefer candles that are scented naturally and smell more earthy. Things like, lavender, eucalyptus, bamboo, and green grass.



    Yes, you would have loved Illuminations. There was one in Orlando Fashion Square, not far from the store I worked.


    I agree, that last shot is amazing!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have a wonderful Monday and week!
    X

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  13. Ron, I'm a candle-lover, too! There's something so calming about being in the presence of a lighted candle.

    I simply love your photos here; in fact, each one is so splendid that I'm having trouble picking a favorite! Maybe #5 with those beautiful white birch pillars, or maybe #6 with those nooks in the wall.

    Candles provide a deeply religious experience, too, as you're probably aware. When my son went to college, there was an entire shrine (http://tour.nd.edu/locations/grotto/) that was regularly lit (especially at exam time, ha!). It's still one of my favorite places to visit!

    Lovely post, Ron -- have a super week!

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  14. Ron, I'm finding that so many of these specialty type stores are closing more and more, being replaced by larger retailers or online shopping. I do remember Illuminations because there was one that I would shop in the mall. It was a beautifully displayed store. My favorite candle was their lemon verbena. And I liked how their candles were in frosted glass jars. So simple and classy!


    Beautiful photographs!

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  15. "and how candlelight has the ability to create a special ambiance." Ron, that is so true! My girlfriend and me are big time candle lovers. There is something so romantic and magical about candlelight. And there is also something very Goth about candlelight, which I love.


    Beautiful photographs, dude! I like the one of the bathroom. Way cool!

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  16. "There's something so calming about being in the presence of a lighted candle."

    I agree, Debbie! Candlelight creates such a peaceful feeling.

    "Maybe #5 with those beautiful white birch pillars, or maybe #6 with those nooks in the wall."

    Aren't they beautiful photographs? Many of these (like your two favorites) are images taken from Wally's book. Isn't the one with the nooks in the wall amazing? I would love to sit there!

    "Candles provide a deeply religious experience, too, as you're probably aware. "


    You are absolutely right, candles DO provide a deeply religious/spiritual experience, which is probably why I'm so drawn to them. And thank you so much sharing the link....OMG, that grotto is stunning!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week!


    X

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  17. Hey there Elaine!

    "I'm finding that so many of these specialty type stores are closing more and more, being replaced by larger retailers or online shopping."

    Yes, I find the same thing. And it's a shame because stores such as Illuminations needed to be experienced in-person to fully experience the magic!

    "I do remember Illuminations because there was one that I would shop in the mall. It was a beautifully displayed store. My favorite candle was their lemon verbena. And I liked how their candles were in frosted glass jars. So simple and classy!"



    You've been to an Illuminations? How cool! I don't know many people who have. God, I LOVED the lemon verbena! I also loved their bamboo candle because it smelled so natural and earthy. And yes, their frosted glass jars were simple and so classy. I'm not a fan of Yankee Candle jars.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week!
    X

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  18. Hiya Matt!

    "There is something so romantic and magical about candlelight. And there is also something very Goth about candlelight, which I love."



    Yes, there is something very Goth about candles, I agree! Very Count Dracula - HA!


    OMG, don't you love the photo of the bathroom? I love that stone wall!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a most excellent week!
    X

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  19. Ron, did you change things around with your blog design? It looks different and really nice!

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  20. Yes Matt, I did, thank you for noticing. I bought this new blog design over the weekend from a seller on Etsy. I really liked it because it was simple and clean.

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  21. I love, love, love both candles and interesting lamps. I have a string of mini amber edison lights on my sunporch for example, and paper lanterns. And I especially love the warm flickering lights of candles. I'd go into an absolute daze in that candle store.


    BTW, I ate at a restaurant in Philadelphia that had a wall with lots of little alcoves and a small candle in each one. It was magical.

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  22. Omg I am in love! The only candle store I have ever been to is Yankee Candle and this store certainly knocks them out of the park! Another store like this needs to open ASAP! Talk about a zen shopping expiereince! Love all the pictures as well! Amazing!

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  23. I too loved Illuminations! I had a wall scone that could hold a floating candle or live/dried flowers. Sadly, I didn't even realize they were gone, but my love for candles remains.

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  24. Jay, Sparking SynapseJanuary 12, 2015

    Wow, there were actually whole stores devoted to selling candles? They must have been quite something to see! I can well imagine you managing one, Ron!

    I love candles, but with very few exceptions, I loathe the scented ones. Most are simply too powerful and smell too artificial. I like lavender candles (just the simple lavender scent, nothing more), and I'm quite fond of vanilla or chocolate scented candles, but most others, nope - keep them well away from me!

    It's partly because they make me sneeze and make my throat sore. There must be something in some of the stronger perfumes, or some of the things they use to create complex aromas, that simply don't suit me.

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  25. Mark PetruskaJanuary 12, 2015

    I've got a thing for candles, too. Especially black ones arranged in the shape of a pentagram. 'Course, then I have to go track down a goat to sacrifice, and that is neither easy nor cheap...


    I kid, I kid. But I do like candles. They're an extension of my other illuminated love, lava lamps (only more flammable).

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  26. Oh Ron, I would have loved this store because I am bonkers for candles. There's place in my town that sells handmade candles, both scented and unscented. They are the best candles I've ever burned. They're made from soy wax, so they're a little bit more expensive but so worth it because they burn evenly and slow. I also like to burn tealights in votive holders and place them all around my apartment at night because they give such a nice glow.


    Beautiful photographs! The first and last are my favorites.


    Enjoyed the video clip on your sidebar this week. I am a big fan of Clean Bandit!

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  27. Hey there Shae!

    "The only candle store I have ever been to is Yankee Candle and this store certainly knocks them out of the park!"

    I agree! Personally, I'm not a big fan of Yankee Candles for a couple of reasons, I don't like the jars they put their candles in and I'm not crazy about the way they burn.

    "Talk about a zen shopping experience."



    TOTAL Zen! The second you'd walk into an Illuminations, you would feel so relaxed and calm.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week!
    X

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  28. "I too loved Illuminations!"


    Jean, I had a feeling because you live out west, you'd know about Illuminations because their headquarters was in Petaluma, CA. Wasn't Illuminations faaaaaabulous? They truly had the best-made and best-scented candles!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a terrific week!
    X

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  29. " I have a string of mini amber edison lights on my sunporch for example, and paper lanterns."

    OMG, I bet that looks fabulous too! I can SO see your charming and cozy house lit with candles.

    "And I especially love the warm flickering lights of candles. I'd go into an absolute daze in that candle store."

    HAHAHAHAHA! And trust me, you would!

    "BTW, I ate at a restaurant in Philadelphia that had a wall with lots of little alcoves and a small candle in each one. It was magical."



    Wow, you have me curious now as the where that restaurant was located. It sounds like a restaurant in Old City because they have places like that.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week!
    X

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  30. Hey there Jay!

    "Wow, there were actually whole stores devoted to selling candles? They must have been quite something to see!"

    Yup, it was nothing but candles and candle accessories. You would have loved this place because it had such a beautiful ambiance. And they also sold THE most quality candles.

    "I like lavender candles (just the simple lavender scent, nothing more).."



    I feel the same way. I love scented candles that are herb-smelling, such as, lavender and eucalyptus. But I'm not too keen on food-smelling candles. And I'm definitely not a fan of scented candles at the dinner table because they interfere with taste.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a lovely week!
    X

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  31. " Especially black ones arranged in the shape of a pentagram. 'Course, then I have to go track down a goat to sacrifice, and that is neither easy nor cheap..."

    Bwhahahahaha! Mark, I busted out laughing when I read that! You're freaking hilarious!

    "But I do like candles. They're an extension of my other illuminated love, lava lamps (only more flammable)."



    Yup, I had feeling you liked candles. In fact, I think I remember seeing some in photographs you've shared on your blog of your new apartment.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week!


    X to you and Tara!

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  32. Hey ho Robert!

    "There's place in my town that sells handmade candles, both scented and unscented. They are the best candles I've ever burned. They're made from soy wax, so they're a little bit more expensive but so worth it because they burn evenly and slow."

    Wow...that place sounds fabulous! And you're right about soy candles because Illuminations used to carry those as well. They're a bit more expensive but SO worth it because of the way they burn.

    " I also like to burn tealights in votive holders and place them all around my apartment at night because they give such a nice glow."

    I do the same thing!!!!!! I buy a lot of tea lights and store them in a big jar because I go through them fast.

    "Enjoyed the video clip on your sidebar this week. I am a big fan of Clean Bandit!"



    I just discovered Clean Bandit a few weeks ago because they play music in the store I work and several of the songs on the track are of Clean Bandit. OMG...I love their sound! I've suddenly become a huge fan!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a fabuloso week!


    X

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  33. Ron, I forgot to as in my comment this morning, where was the Illuminations you worked at located in Philly.


    I'm not a Yankee Candle fan either :(

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  34. It was located at the Shops at Liberty Place on 16th and Chestnut in Center City. It was one of Illuminations smaller stores, but it was so charming and cozy. However, the rent in that mall is astronomical. Stores open and close there constantly.

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  35. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comJanuary 13, 2015

    As an ex-pat living in Sweden, where the sun rises after 8.30 am and sets before 15.00 - candles are essential for maintaining sanity!


    Thanks for a lovely and illuminating (ha ha!) post.

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  36. Hey there Fiona!

    "As an ex-pat living in Sweden, where the sun rises after 8.30 am and sets before 15.00 - candles are essential for maintaining sanity!"

    OMG...so I bet you do enjoy candlelight! You know, I've always wanted to visit Sweden. And judging by your stunning photographs, it makes me want to visit even more.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have an illuminating week!
    X

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  37. I loved experiencing your experience. I could almost taste the wine. Lighting is everything. I am drawn to light and the ways it affects living things and lifeless objects. It takes me away from what I'm doing for a moment, so I can enjoy the magic.

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  38. Hey there Lauren!

    "I could almost taste the wine."

    HA! Cheers!

    " Lighting is everything. I am drawn to light and the ways it affects living things and lifeless objects. It takes me away from what I'm doing, so I can enjoy a moment of magic."

    I love how you said that because it's so true. Candles do affect both living things and lifeless objects.

    Thank you so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope you're enjoying super week!

    X

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  39. Geraldine H.January 13, 2015

    Oh wow...these are ALL so gorgeous! What a visual treat Ron.


    I love candles, what's not to love, right? Except when felines get their tails a bit too close. That's happened to me in the past, when I was having a candlelit dinner but cat-as-trophe was averted with a quick dunk of water to the tail!!!! ;-) Ouch!!!


    Back to your gorgeous post. It really is amazing how candlelight can transform even the most mundane of surroundings (not that any of these ARE mundane, just saying!! ) and turn it into something magical, where anything seems possible.


    Have a wonderful week and thanks for another great post to enjoy here. :-)

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  40. My formative years were in the 60's and early 70's. Candles were a huge part of everything. Everybody I knew loved and used candles. Heck, we even made a ton of them. A couple of years ago, one my daughters gave us a set of "battery powered" candles. At first I thought it was a joke. When I realized that it wasn't, I asked her if they didn't come with a remote control. She apparently caught my drift, because she said that they didn't, but they did come with a receipt, and I could return them anytime I wanted. Oh well! Battery powered candles? The nerve!

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  41. Hey there Pat!

    "My formative years were in the 60's and early 70's. Candles were a huge part of everything. Everybody I knew loved and used candles."

    Yes! You and I must be around the same age because candles were HUGE back in the 60's and 70's! We used melt candle wax over old wine bottles, remember that?

    "At first I thought it was a joke. When I realized that it wasn't, I asked her if they didn't come with a remote control. She apparently caught my drift, because she said that they didn't, but they did come with a receipt, and I could return them anytime I wanted. Oh well! Battery powered candles? The nerve!"

    Bwhahahahhaha! OMG...that is SO funny! I know, can you believe that they have such things as BATTERY operated candles!?!? The nerve!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Hope you had a great New Year!

    X

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  42. Wow wow WOW did they make fabulous use of light arrangement. Way cool.

    Yaknow, I grew up in 'that' era. We had electric lights, we just refused to use 'em. And our parent(s) would scold us for using candles cuz the house was gonna burn down and all of humanity was going to perish. And then they'd go to mass and do what?!? Oh yes, light candles!! I think all that fussing did was heighten my love of the darn things. Singed hair from bending too close when lighting, burned fingers from playing with the wax.....and messy every thing from melting a bazillion coloured candles over one said wine bottle.....yup....I think that's where the love of candles and candlelight got its roots.

    Today I have two....spendy soy ones without the leaded wick....very lightly scented.....and they get lit rarely. He-who-has-THAT-phobia stands guard with the fire extinguisher if I even look in the general direction of the cabinet that holds the two measley candles I own.
    Ohhh...but who's the first to drag 'em out when the power goes out!! ....k....that's me. HE'S too busy fumbling in the dark, looking for batteries to shove in the stupid flashlight.

    Shhhh....don't tell....but sometimes, when Mr. Phobe King is out of the evening with his buddies, I.LIGHT.THE.CANDLES. :-D

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