Thursday, February 23, 2012

How To: Glitter Votives

By this time of year I'm always itching for spring to arrive.  The days are starting to get longer, but it's still pretty wintery, gray and dark in our little corner of the world.  Such a situation calls for glitter, clearly.  I wanted to make a pretty votive candle holder for my daughter, since she adds sparkle and light to my life every single day.    Here's what I came up with...

What you need:  
  • glass votives in any size or shape--jelly jars or wine glasses would probably work well too
  • double-sided tape--this should have paper on one side
  • fine glitter--the courser stuff might work too, but would probably not stick to the tape as well
  • scissors
  • dry paint brushes
  • drop cloth or sheet to cover your work surface
  • plain pieces of paper to collect excess glitter
  • clear varnish--optional

    Start with clean, dry glass.  Plan out the design that you want beforehand. It's helpful to apply only one glitter color at a time, both for efficiency and so that the colors don't become blended.  Cut a strip of double sided tape and apply it to the glass (leaving the paper side attached).  Burnish with your fingernail to make sure that the tape is adhered properly.

    Remove the paper backing from the tape and pour ample quantities of glitter onto the newly exposed sticky side of the tape.  You can pat it on with your finger or a dry paintbrush to make sure that it's well distributed and stuck on.

    Shake off the excess glitter and brush lightly with a dry paintbrush to remove any extra that may be attached to the glass.  

    Repeat as needed with all the colors, shapes and patterns that your heart desires.  You could do more interesting variations than we attempted here by using shape blade scissors or shaped hole punches like the kind often used in scrap booking. One optional step (that I did not photograph for this tutorial) is to dab clear varnish over the glitter (but not on the glass) to protect it from being brushed off during normal handling.

    I think I'll call these my "Welcome Back Spring" candles.  I love coming out of the dark of winter and back into the light.  Don't you?


    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    How To: Colorful Heart Crayons

    Here's a cute, fast and easy Valentine's Day project for you to do with the kids this weekend.  These would make great classmate Valentine's gifts for all of the school parties that will be happening on Tuesday, or just a fun little somethin' for your own kids to use in honor of the upcoming holiday.

    Start with a colorful collection of crayons.  The ones shown here are new, but broken bits work great.  It's actually a wonderful way to get more life out of them once they've been rejected by the kids for being too small to hold.  It's totally fine to use and mix different brands of crayons as well.  Be aware that they may well have different melting points though.  The higher the paraffin content, the faster they will melt.

    Remove all of the paper wrappers and break or cut the crayons into small pieces.  Do not grate them, since this would make the colors blend together too much and the end product would not look as vibrant or impressive.  

    Place the crayon pieces in shaped silicone ice cube trays.  I have a huge collection of them in many different shapes which I use for hand soap molds. These heart shapes are perfect for Valentine's Day.  Ikea, Target, Goodwill and Value Village are great sources for silicone molds, by the way.

    Place the crayon pieces in the molds.  It's OK to overfill them a bit, since the crayons will melt and pool downward into the mold.  It looks nice to choose just two or three color families for each heart.

    Put the silicone molds on a baking tray and place them in the oven at 230 degrees for around 15 minutes until all of the crayons have melted.

    Let them cool, then pop them out of the molds.

    Cute and great for chubby little hands!  They're really fun to color with because they make beautiful swirling effects as each of the blended shades makes its own unique mark on the paper...just like your Valentine makes a unique mark on your world.  Sorry, I couldn't resist the sappy comparison.  

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    All photos courtesy of Britt McCombs.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    The Power of Punctuation

    I LOVE grammar humor.  Happy Friday everyone!

    Smooch Stick Giveaway Winners

    And the winners are...
    (Chosen by a Random Number Generator)

    #10  Jacquiekiefer said...

    "I will" by the Beatles
    #5  Motria said...
    White Stripes, "We're going to be friends". :-)
    Love your Smooch Sticks!!

    #14  Kim said...

    Dave Matthews Love of My Life: Where you are, that's where I wanna be
    And through your eyes
    All the things I wanna see
    And in the night
    You are my dream
    You're everything to me
    Thanks to everyone for entering.  Have a great Valentine's Day!!

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Valentine Smooch Stick Giveaway

    As some of you may remember, Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday.  Not that my husband and I usually go out and do anything fancy or romantic, I just like the sentiment.  

    In honor of Valentine's Day, I've put together a cute little gift set of three Smooch Sticks which come in a small muslin pouch with a pink ribbon and cupid tag. It's a great gift for spouses and soul mates, kids, mothers, brothers and the like. It lasts a LOT longer than flowers, by the way.  Not that flowers aren't wonderful.

    The set is available for purchase on our website now and can be shipped in time for Valentine's Day.  

    I've decided to do a little giveaway as well, because that's the way I roll.  On Thursday I will randomly choose three lucky winners to each receive one Valentine's Day set.  In order to enter, please leave a post answering the following question: What's your favorite love song?  Mine is probably Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson or I Was Born to Love Her by Ivan & Alyosha.  How about you?

    Update:  I'm hearing that a few folks are having trouble getting the Blogger system to accept their comments.  If this has happened to you, please let me know.  If you would like to email me with your comment I can post it on the entry so that you have a chance to win in the giveaway.  Please send emails to info [at]

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    4-H Does Paleoclimatology

    Our 4H club had the awesome opportunity this week to tour the University of Washington Ocean Sciences building and learn about the Paleoclimatology & Organic Geochemistry Research being done there.  We feel really fortunate to have access to this great teaching, learning and research institution.  The visit was a wonderful example for the kids of what can be accomplished with an interest in the natural world combined with a solid game plan and lots of hard work.

    Paleoclimatology is the study of changes in climate over the entire history of the Earth.  Researchers learn about these changes by looking at ocean currents, temperatures, salinity, atmospheric gasses and very, very old slices of history...literally.  Much of their data comes from deep sediment and ice core samples collected in various places all over the world.  Information about what our atmosphere was like thousands of years ago can be compared to today's data and much can be learned.

    This is a device that collects samples in the open ocean.

    We learned that our oceans are mapped just like our land masses are.

    The kids were very interested in the nitty gritty, practical details of how data is collected by the research team.  Members of the team spend several months each year out in the field collecting data in places like   the Marshall Islands, Fiji and the Galapagos Islands.  The University has developed and manufactures self propelled Deepglider devices that travel through the oceans of the world collecting information in a much more efficient way than in the past when research boats and many people would be needed to achieve the same result.    

    Deepgliders getting readied for testing.

    The lab has a test tank where they are able to do trial runs with equipment before taking it out into the field.  We got to try it out for ourselves.

    Many parts of the lab facilities contain high tech industrial-looking equipment.  It was a good reminder that science is not only about lab coats, beakers and microscopes.

    There were temperature controlled rooms containing core sediment samples in various stages of analysis.  The oldest core sample we saw was 120,000 years old.  It was also interesting to learn that some really low-tech tools like cheese wire and plastic wrap play important roles in the whole process.

    The researchers also look for information in living things like plants that help measure saline levels in the earth's oceans.  Every single variable has to be looked at in order for the research to be valid and meaningful.

    It was fun to see evidence that this was a real, working lab with people leaving notes out for each other.  I leave notes out on my counter too, but mine usually say something like "buy peanut butter".  Hmmm.

    The high point for most of the kids was when they got to see the power of liquid nitrogen which, at  -346°F,  is the coldest thing that exists on Earth.  We dipped several objects in liquid nitrogen (gummi bears, roses, bananas, pennies and balloons) and got to see how extreme cold effects different substances.  It's a well known fact that scientists kick everyone's butt in the party trick department.

    Upon departure we were also reminded that scientists do humor too.

    Thanks University of  Washington Paleoclimatogy & Organic Geochemistry folks!  And keep up the good work!