July 23, 2014

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle ShellsRecently, Sola and I made some bubble wands. I was really surprised that they worked as well as store-bought wands. To make these wands, you need some copper wire (I used 18 gauge), beads, wire cutters, jeweler’s block, and ball-peen/jeweler's hammer.

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

The first thing that you will want to do is to decide how you want to make your handle. I have seen some people on Pinterest who made the ends into swirls, but I was worried that Sola could still poke her finger on the raw end of the wire, so I opted to tuck the wire under the bottom bead. To do this, I curved the wire into a “u”. Then I used my ball-pean hammer and jeweler’s block to hammer the “u” shape until it was very flat. The more you hammer metal, the stiffer it gets, so it won’t lose its shape.

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

We then started stringing beads on to the wire in the pattern that we both liked (you might have to use a smaller bead for the very first bead, just so it won’t slide off the bottom.

At the top, I also wanted to make sure that the wire ends were safely tucked into the beads, so I first stuck the end of the wire into the top bead, not bothering to shape the wand.

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Then I shaped the wire into circular shapes (you can make any shape you want). I twisted the wire at the base of the wand, where it enters the beads. You want to twist the wire nice and snug up against the beads to make the handle stiff, or else it will be flopping all around.

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

And that is it! We’ve also been experimenting with several DIY bubble solution recipes.

Homemade Beaded Bubble Wands - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Maureen

July 16, 2014

Yarn Along Wednesday - Some Socks for Me

Yarn Along Wednesday - Some Socks for Me | Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

You would think that with the lazy days of summer, I’d be getting more knitting done, but our lack of structure seems to be sabotaging all my efforts to finish up a knitting project. I finished the first shoe that I was knitting for Sola’s doll and realized that the shoe was way to large. We’re kind of at a crossroads in regards to Sola’s toys right now anyway. She has been playing with the neighborhood kids a lot. As such, she has been influenced by peer pressure quite a bit. All the neighborhood girls have American Girl dolls, so now Sola only wants an American Girl doll and says she hates her Waldorf doll. Given that the strength of her relationship with the neighborhood kids can vacillate quite a bit, I’m not prepared to toss out her Waldorf doll yet, but at the same time, I’m not feeling super inspired to make any new clothes for it. Instead, I am focusing on using up all the sock yarn that I purchased and have not used. No one in my family, besides me, would appreciate hand knit socks, so I will be making several pairs for myself. Normally, I don’t wear socks much, but maybe having hand knit socks will change that. At the very least, I will greatly appreciate them during the coldest days of winter.  

  

Reading-wise, I’ve been finding lots of time to read while sitting on the front porch keeping and eye on Sola, as she tries to navigate the world of neighborhood children, or sitting on park benches, while she learns to do the monkey bars all by herself. I’ve been reading three books since I last posted. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the first book, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by Danah Boyd, but it wasn’t what I got. Maybe if my older kids were younger, this book would have been more meaningful to me. It probably would have reassured me that my kids weren’t going to become the spawn of Satan due to their use of social media. Since Primo is about to turn 23, I’ve been dealing with kids and social media for about 15 years now. Since, for me, this book's sole purpose seemed to be to convince me that though kids socialize differently these days, it is all okay, and because I already knew all this, the book came across as if it were hitting me over the head with the message.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman, was a light and enjoyable read. It left me feeling sighing happily when I finished the last page. I’m just going to post Amazon’s description of the book, because it does a good job of setting your expectations, "When Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, the pretty but crazy 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, dies suddenly, her twelve-year-old daughter CeeCee has barely a hope left in the world. To her rescue arrives Great Aunt Tootie in the most magnificent car CeeCee has ever seen, and she is whisked away to the storybook city of Savannah. For some flowers, Aunt Tootie holds, are born to bloom only south of the Mason-Dixon line and soon, among the sweet scent of magnolias and the loving warmth of Tootie and her colourful collection of friends, it looks as though CeeCee has arrived in paradise. But when a darker side to the Southern dream threatens this delicate, newfound happiness, Aunt Tootie and her friends must rally to CeeCee's aid. Warm yet heartbreaking, and generously spiced with humor, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the story of a girl who loses her mother but finds many others under a balmy Georgia sun."

Botany for the Artist: An Inspirational Guide to Drawing Plants, by Sarah Simblet, is a book that is going to take me awhile to finish. It covers a great deal of botany, while also addressing the various technical issues that arise when drawing plants. The images inside the book are absolutely gorgeous and the book may very well serve as a coffee table book when I am done, as I think almost anyone would enjoy leafing through its pages (pun not intended, but hey, it’s there!). Here is a good video review of the book, that shows you the inside, so you can get an idea of how extraordinarily beautiful it is. 

What about you? Have you been reading anything interesting? Have you been able to find time to knit during the summer? As always, I will be sharing this post with:

 

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

July 10, 2014

52 Weeks in Nature: Week 28 - Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center

Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Indoor Butterfly Habitat at Pacific Science Center from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

52 Weeks in Nature 2000

Maureen

20 Ways to Use Up Leftover Summer Fruit

20 Ways to Use Up Leftover Summer Fruit from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells"Berries" by jchatoff from venice beach, usa - berriesUploaded by hike395. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have a garden or have been picking summer fruits, you may have reached your limit for eating a particular fruit before your stockpile is depleted. I was looking for some unique ways to use up our fruit and came up with a list of 20 easy ways to use up leftover fruit that don’t require canning.

  1. Fruit sauce to pour on pancakes, ice cream, etc.
  2. Fruit salsa
  3. Popsicles
  4. Sorbet, Ices, Granita, Frozen Yogurt, or Sherbet
  5. Smoothies
  6. Cobbler
  7. Crisps
  8. Tarts
  9. Pie or hand pies
  10. Strudel
  11. Cookies, bars, blondes
  12. Cake or cupcakes
  13. Cheesecake
  14. Muffins
  15. Quick breads
  16. Scones
  17. Freezer jam
  18. Dried fruit (using your oven!)
  19. Dehydrated fruit
  20. Fruit leather

What about you? Do you have other ways that you use up your extra summer fruit?

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen