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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Re: New(ish) boyfriend gift ideas? on: November 26, 2008 06:07:41 PM
I agree about boys not liking sentimental or anything too personal.  Especially when things are so new.  I'd go with fun or funny.  Boys--  my 25 yr old son and my 40 yr old husband and every boyfriend I ever had-- love funny greeting cards or cool stuff like toys.

My vote is for a sparkleball.  My niece made her boyfriend one and he loved it. You can make a mini-one (www.sparkleball.com/mini.htm) or a big sparkleball www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=279866.0 .  Here's a video of a "dancing" sparkleball in action: http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/CherinJerry/?action=view&current=100_3260.flv

Monica with mini-sparkleball

Good luck!

2  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Re: SPARKLEBALL (no-melt) **Tutorial** -- Easy, Child-Friendly! on: November 26, 2008 05:44:08 PM
they just used paper clips to hold the cups togather

I always wanted to find directions on how to make one with paper clips, since so many folks didn't want to melt the cups together (because of the fumes.)  Now I think the zip-ties are a stronger method--  but using paper clips to hold it together while you attach the cups to each other might be a good idea. 
3  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Re: SPARKLEBALL (no-melt) **Tutorial** -- Easy, Child-Friendly! on: November 26, 2008 08:35:56 AM
Did you buy indivual stands of each color, or did you swith the lights around so you would have one of each color?

Mini lights are available in single colors on one strand.  You have to look to find them in the stores.  In CA our CVS drugstores have them right now.  And Target is always useful.  You can also find them at light sources online.  BUT also, the chasing lights--  the ones with the little controller--  sometimes adjust to show one color at a time.  Or they flash one color at a time, rather than multi-color sparkling.  Does that make sense?  And did I answer your question?
4  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / SPARKLEBALL (no-melt) **Tutorial** -- Easy, Child-Friendly! on: November 24, 2008 08:01:48 AM
Sparkleballs are fun!

For years I've been making sparkleballs, but this year, thanks to a new friend and a  new husband, here's a new way to make these light balls without melting plastic.  Thank you, Erika for the hole-punch idea.  Thank you, Steve for the zip-tie idea.

No more stinky burning plastic!  But it requires soft Solo (or Solo-style "tumbler") 9oz plastic cups.

For one no-melt sparkleball you need:
  • 50 soft plastic cups - 9 oz tumbler-style with slanted sides
  • electric drill with 1/2" bit
  • hand-held hole-puncher
  • 100-150 mini-light strand
  • 200 zip-ties (Erika uses lengths of wire, but I find zip-ties easier.)
  • optional:  beads, glitter

Drill a hole 1/4-1/2" in the bottom of all 50 cups. You can stack several and drill them at once.  The hole must be big enough to slide 1-3 lights through (depending on how many lights in your strand).  Drill one cup and check that lights will fit through. You want them to insert snugly. If the hole cracks a little when you push the lights through, that's ok.
OPTIONAL:  For a very pretty effect, dip cup rims in glue, then glitter.  Let dry.

Punch 4 holes around the top of each cup.  Space them evenly apart, so each hole has one across from it.  If the cup has a raised lip, punch holes just under it.

Arrange 12 cups in a circle.  Attach each cup to the one next to it using a zip-tie through the touching holes.  DO NOT TIGHTEN the zip-ties until all cups are attached.  Then tighten zip-ties one by one, making sure the circle of cups stays flat.  Trim zip-ties.

OPTIONAL STEP:Here is where you start adding the beads if you want.  Slide plastic beads onto zip-ties before tightening.

Place 9 cups, one by one, on top of and around of the circle.  Attach each cup to the one it sits on top of.  When all 9 cups are in place, then attach each one to the cup next to it. (These cups will attach at 3 holes.) Finally, tighten all zip-ties and trim.

Place 4 cups into the space left in the sparkleball-half you're building. When they fit neatly, attach them to each other.  These cups will attach at all four holes to other cups.  If holes don't quite meet, punch new ones.  When all cups are attached, tighten zip-ties and trim.


To insert lights: start at the prong end of the cord. Insert the two lights closest to the prong into a cup at the outside rim. (The plug will then hang out when you put the two halves together.) Depending on how many lights you're using, insert 1-3 lights in each cup--using half the strand of lights on this half.

Work slowly. It's important NOT to skip a cup or miss a light. If you crack a cup, that's ok. This is the hardest part, but you're half done!

Build the second half of the ball just like the first.  When you thread the lights, start with the opposite end of the strand, so the lights will meet when you join the halves.

http://www.sparkleball.com/images/join.jpg Press the two halves together, making sure all wires are neatly tucked inside the ball.  Attach halves with zip-ties.  Tighten them and trim.

To make a hanger for your sparkleball, decide where the top is.  Do you want the cord out the top? Or the bottom?  I make my hanger out of 2 "s" hooks and a bit of chain, but you can use fishing line, zip-ties, wire coathangers, or ribbon.

Plug in and enjoy!

If you'd rather make sparkleballs with a soldering iron-- the old-school way-- here's another Craftster tute to show how:  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=189563.0
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Heritage Natal Plum Jam on: June 23, 2008 02:47:24 PM
Natal Plums--  click here for a good photo: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/natal_plum.htm - grow all over southern California.  They are ornamental, large, dark green thorny shrubs, and you'll find them in parks, in your back yard, at the beach.  The small juicy natal plums ripen in June.   They range from bright red to almost black.  And they taste like a cross between a plum and a cranberry.

Making jam from these little fruits is easy and fun.

First,  wash 6-8 small commercial jam jars.  Sterilize them by putting in a 250 degree oven for 30 min.  Sterilize the rims and new lids by simmering in water for the same time.


6 cups chopped natal plums
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar --  measured out into a bowl
1 box commerical pectin

1.  Put chopped plums in a large saucepan.  Add lemon juice and pectin.  Bring to a ROLLING boil.  That's a furious boil that even your stirring won't stop.  But do stir to keep mixture from scorching.

2.  Dump all the sugar into the saucepan, into the boiling mass.  Stir it in to dissolve. 

3.  Bring fruit BACK to a rolling boil, stirring so it won't burn.  Once the boil is furious, set the timer.  Boil for 1 minute.

4.  Remove fruit from stovetop.  Ladle it into hot jars, filling up to 1/4 in of the jar top.  Dry lids and rims with a clean towel.  Put lids on.  When you screw on the rims, just tighten til it barely catches.  Not too tight.

5.  Let jam cool.  You should hear jars pop to indicate seal is setting. Some cookbooks say you must let jam set for a week before eating.  I say, Whooey!  Eat!  Once jam is opened, you must refrigerate.  Sealed jam should last a year.

6.  Be proud.  You are eating local.  You are preserving food.  You are eating the way your great-grandmother did.  You are resourceful!

6  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Re: LOOKING FOR: dog saddlebag how-to on: January 28, 2008 07:39:30 AM
Try this link: http://www.houndsofcaid.org/pages/crafts/dog_pack.html

Anne,  I just checked the second link which I'd missed in my excitement.  This is fascinating--  much more than I need, but my fiance will LOVE it.  This is excactly the kind of thing he loses himself into:  history and how-to.

Thanks again.
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Re: LOOKING FOR: dog saddlebag how-to on: January 28, 2008 07:35:05 AM
THANK YOU!  Anne--  this is indeed what I'm looking for.  However,  it may be beyond my expertise, and I may have to cough up the $ for a ready-made one.   I wonder how much I would save if I have to buy all those catches and that webbing.  The photos are great, except for showing how she cut the overall shape and sewed the pouches.  I'll have to read it carefully to learn more.  Anyway,  not to complain because you answered my question perfectly! 
8  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Re: LOOKING FOR: dog saddlebag how-to on: January 26, 2008 07:24:23 AM
My fiance and I are trying to save money for a wedding, so I wanted to see if I could make something inexpensively that works.  But the price on this one is pretty good.  Thanks for the link!
9  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / LOOKING FOR: dog saddlebag how-to on: January 26, 2008 06:47:43 AM
I'm looking for a pattern or how-to for making a saddlebag or backpack for my dog Simca.

This would be for carrying groceries or library books, and it would give Simca a job in the family.

10  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Valentine's Day / Sparkleheart ***With Tutorial** on: January 23, 2008 09:07:37 AM
Here's a new twist on sparkleballs for St. Val's Day -  Make a sparkleheart!

approx. 10 x 14 inches

The supplies and method are just like making a basic sparkleball.  So review the sparkleball tutorial before you begin making your sparkleheart.

You will need:  50 9 oz "tumbler" clear plastic cups (must have slanted sides), 100 red mini-lights (available online at all Christmas light sites), a soldering iron, and good ventilation.    Red cups would be awesome, but I can't find them.

1. With a hot soldering iron, poke a 1/2" hole in the bottom of all 50 cups. Divide cups into two groups of 25.

2. Arrange 13 cups in a circle. How you join cups to each other is what turns them into a heart-shape, so the next steps are crucial. When you burn through one cup to the next, hold cups in place until the solder joint cools completely. Go slow. Be patient.

Here's a diagram to show you how to build the first layer and start the second.  The white arrows show whether to attach cups at tops, bottoms, or both.

3. Join the 2 cups at the top of the circle (cups #1 and #2) at top rims only. This makes the top of the heart. Join the next 6 cups-- adding 3 on each side of cups #1 and #2-- at their bottoms only. You will have 8 cups forming an arc (almost half the circle.) print diagram for layer 1

 4. Join #9 and #10 to #7 and #8 at tops and bottoms of cups. Join #11 and #12 at the tops only. The final cup, #13, is the last cup and the heart's point. Join it at the bottom to #11 and #12. Make sure these joints are strong.

5. The first layer should now resemble a heart. The joints must be strong enough to keep the shape as you add the next layer.   

6. The 2nd layer has 9 cups. Add Cup #14 at the top. Nestle it into the space between cups #1 and #2. It may almost point upward. This forms the heart's center dip. Now place the other 8 cups on top of the first layer, continuing the heart shape. They will not necessarily touch each other but will attach to the layer below.   
7. Fit the last 3 cups into the open space left. When you're happy with the fit, join them in. This first half will look now like a fat, smashed heart.

8. Thread 50 of the red mini-lights into the heart half. Each cup will have 2 lights inserted into the one hole. IMPORTANT: Start threading at Cup #13, the heart's bottom point, with the pronged end of the cord. 
9. Build the second half exactly like the first. When you're ready to thread lights on the second half, please NOTE that on a heart-shaped sparkleball, you must begin and finish threading lights on Half 2 exactly as you did Half 1-- at Cup #13. (This is different than a sparkleball, where it doesn't matter since it's round.) You want to be able to join the heart halves perfectly, and the lights must match up. 

10. Join the two halves securely, taking care not to burn the wires or lights. The finished sparkleheart will be 2-dimensional (not 3 like a sparkleball) and looks best hung against something so you can really see the heart shape. It doesn't work as well if it's free-hanging.

11.  Make a hanger with clear fishing line, chain and "s" hooks, or a shower curtain ring.  You can see more on hangers on the last step of the sparkleball tutorial .

Have fun!
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