Thankful – Wine Cork Necklaces (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , November 24, 2008 8:36 am

We did a fun thankful project last Thanksgiving for our Unplugged Project, but I felt we needed to find something different for this year’s thankful theme.

For a while now I have also been collecting wine corks to use for a craft.  I thought about this all week, and a miraculous inspiration came to me (for which I am thankful).  Thankful Necklaces!

Here’s what you’ll need:  wine corks, scissors, newspapers and magazines, white glue and/or Modge Podge, plus a necklace cord (yarn, string, ribbon, chain or leather perhaps?).  You’ll also need to make a hole all the way through the corks, we used a drill.

First drill a hole all the way through the corks.  The hole should be near the top of the cork:

Next comes the fun part.  Sit down with old newspapers and magazines and cut out words and small images that represent what you are thankful for.  Make sure they are small, because they’ll need to fit on the cork.

Once you have all your cutouts, use a small paint brush to paint white glue onto the back of each word or picture and stick it on the cork.  Keep in mind that there is not much room on a cork so you should start with the larger items and fit the smaller ones on top if necessary.

Don’t worry about covering the hole.  My daughter left hers uncovered but I covered mine and later poked a skewer through to open it.  If you do cover the holes though, be careful not to put anything too important over the top or it will be messed up when you open the hole later. (You could probably also drill the hole at the end after the decoupage is done and dry).

When you are done with the gluing and are satisfied with the result, cover the entire cork with watered down white glue or Modge Podge using your paintbrush.  It will take a few coats to become nice and shiny and hard.

Once the cork bead is completely dry, open the hole with a skewer if you covered it up with decoupage.

String the necklace cord through the bead and voila!  You have a thankful necklace!

This would be pretty and unusual combined with other beads.  Or how about some funky earrings?

You don’t have to stick with thankful as a theme either.  You could try colors, patterns, animals, anything!

I think I’ll make more of these.  They were so fun and the creative possibilities seem truly limitless. Plus, I really like how they turned out!


Did you do the thankful Unplugged Project with us this week? If so, then please link to your project post (not just your blog) in Mr. Linky below. If not, but you think this sounds fun, then read more about how to join in the weekly Unplugged Projects here. We’d love to have you!


Next week’s Unplugged Project theme will be:


Have fun!


Sort, Junk, Donate – (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , November 16, 2008 8:16 pm

This week’s Unplugged Project was a little different.  After mentioning my massive sorting project, by popular demand the theme became Sort-Junk-Donate.  Hopefully this theme inspired many out there to tackle those piles around the house.  Whether it be toys, clothes, or just plain junk, we all need to purge from time to time.

Or maybe you recycled some throw-aways into art?  I look forward to your projects.

As for me, I’ll simply show you a picture of what we donated so far.  There is more on the way, but the photo above is the bulk of it. (Georgio Armani the cat is NOT a giveaway of course!)

Plus, a few awards!!

My oldest daughter wins the award for The Strangest Item Found:  In her closet I found a plastic food storage container full of brown sugar.

My 2 year-old daughter wins the award for The Least Number of Stuffed Animals donated:  0 (although she did part with some toys).

My son wins the award for The Most Toys Donated (aka. The Unexpected Generosity Award):  I didn’t count, but he even gave away his fancy space station to a friend who always played with it when he came over.

Of course you can donate to your local thrift store, but here are a few links to help you figure out a more original way to pass on no longer needed new, like-new or gently-used items:

New = New, tag-on

Like-new = No tag, but good enough to give as a gift

Gently-used = used, but still in great condition

  • Samaritan’s Purse (Christian Relief Organization):  Pack a Christmas shoe box of small new items for children “in desperate situations” around the world.  Hurry up because this year’s deadline for drop-off is November 17-24. (Many thanks to Karen B. for this idea!)
  • Project Night Night:  Donates comfort tote bags to children ages 0-10 in homeless shelters.  Each bag contains a security blanket, stuffed animal, and age-appropriate book.  They take new blankets (handmade or cribsize), new stuffed animals, or new/like-new books, store gift cards (even if only a few dollars left), fleece or flannel fabric.  Be sure to read the guidelines for items to be donated and drop-off/mail-in locations here.
  • Books for America:  Donates to Washington DC area schools, libraries, homeless shelters and hospitals.  Provides underpriveleged kids with their first take-home books.  Accepts new or like-new books (but NO HARDCOVER FICTION), movies (DVD or VHS), CD’s, audiobooks, and collectible items that can be auctioned.  Children’s books are urgently needed.  Please see here for donation guidelines and locations (drop-off and ship-to).
  • Books for Africa:  Sends books to rural African schools and libraries.  Gently used textbooks can be hard to find homes for, but Books for Africa wants textbooks (no more than 15 years old), as well as popular fiction and non-fiction (hard and softcover), encyclopedias and dictionaries 1995 and newer, new school supplies.  There is also a list of what not to send, so please check here first.
  • Shoe4Africa:  Accepts new and gently-used running shoes.  Shoes must have at least another 100 miles of running in them!  Shoes should be sent via AIRMAIL ONLY to Kenya.  Instructions are here.
  • Send new or gently used stuffed animals and toys to Iraq:  Here is an address for someone stationed in Iraq who wants used stuffed animals and toys to distribute to poor children there.  I found this on Google and know nothing more, but I offer the link here!
  • Old computers and other electronics:  Find a list of places to donate for reuse or recycling at the US Environmental Protection Agency.  I just found out I can send back my ancient Nokia cell phone for free with a prepaid shipping label that I can print out.  Who knew?
  • The Help Kenya Project:  Based in Westchester, NY.  Accepts computers (and accessories), books, clothing, sports equipment, and more.  Please see the website and contact them for more information.
  • Foster children often must transport their meager belongings in garbage bags.  Here is more information on how to collect and donate luggage.  Consider donating suitcases or duffel bags to your local foster care agency or homeless shelter.
  • Also, don’t forget to check locally.  Google something like “used computers San Francisco donate” and see what you come up with.  Substitute what you want to donate and your area.
  • Of course for good-condition book donations there is always also your local library or schools (especially those in low-income areas).
  • Garage sale for your favorite charity?  If you have the energy, then give that a go!

If anyone else has a favorite place for donating “stuff,” please share your idea in a comment.


If you participated in this week’s Unplugged Project theme of Sort-Junk-Donate, then please leave the link to your project rather than just your blog in Mr. Linky below.  That way we’ll all be able to find your project, forever and ever!  If you didn’t participate, but are interested in learning more, then read about it all here and consider joining in next week.


Next week’s Unplugged Project theme will be more like the usual kind:


We did this one last year for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  I don’t really like to repeat, but since it is probably advisable to think about being thankful at least once a year no matter what country you reside in, I will repeat the theme.  We’ll do something new though!

Kitchen – Non-Newtonian Fluid; aka “Oobleck!! – (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , November 10, 2008 10:00 pm

Today, along with a visiting friend, we finally got to do this week’s kitchen Unplugged Project.  We used cornstarch, a common kitchen ingredient, to create a non-Newtonian fluid.  The other name for such a mixture is Oobleck, from the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

It was SO COOL!!  The kids and I found it fascinating!  I was so enthralled that I felt that the mess (and there WAS mess), was actually very worthwhile.

I set out four small mixing bowls and spoons, one for each child.  I also set out water, cornstarch, and measuring cups.

The kids each put about one cup of cornstarch into their bowl.

I had them add water just a bit at a time,

and stir until we got the “right” consistency.

It was probably close to about a half to two thirds of a cup of water, but the “right” consistency was quite obvious.  When the mixture starts to feel hard to stir although it looks like liquid on the top, then it is probably about ready.

Test it by dipping your hand in, lifting out some fluid, and squeezing it into a ball.  It should feel like a hard, dry ball in your hand but when you open your fingers, it will turn back into a liquid and run back into the bowl.

Here is a fleeting picture of it as a solid:

Adjust your mixture by adding a bit of water if too dry, or a bit of cornstarch if too wet.  You’ll know you have it right when the oohs and aahs begin!

This was so much fun to play with and was a very weird sensation that is quite hard to describe.  The children (including my 2 year-old) and I played for maybe an hour:  squeezing, stirring, punching, and even hammering!

My favorite trick: If you roll it between your two palms as if you are making a ball with clay, it makes a nice solid ball, but as soon as you release the pressure, it all runs away!

Also, put a finger gently into it and it will slowly and strangely be sucked under as if in quicksand.  Jab the finger in quickly, and it will hit a hard surface.

The Science:

As I understand it, when you squeeze the mixture, or compress it quickly in some way (hammer, punching, etc.), the molecules compress and become a solid.  When the pressure is released, the molecules spread out again and the mixture becomes a liquid.  As my oldest daughter said:  “Oooo!  I can feel it changing from a solid to a liquid!”

Here are two good explanations of what a non-Newtonian fluid is:

“Oobleck is often referred to as a ‘non-Newtonian’ substance because it does not behave as Newton’s Third Law of Motion states; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Applying this principle, you would expect Oobleck to ‘splash’ when you ‘smack’ it with your hand. (Smacking is the action, splashing is the reaction.) However, when you try this out Oobleck does not splash, in fact, it becomes a solid substance for a few moments.”

(from Oobleck – a Non-Newtonian Fluid)


“Isaac Newton defined normal liquids as having consistent flow behavior affected only by temperature or pressure; so fluids that change their resistance to flow (viscosity) under stress are not ‘normal’. Some of these fluids get runnier when stress is applied, like paint, toothpaste and slug mucus. Some get thicker, like quicksand and Oobleck.”

(from Science in the City – Bullet Proof Goo)

As to why it behaves this way, it seems that this is actually a matter of some controversy, but here are some links that are more knowledgeable than I:

Oobleck –  a Non-Newtonian Fluid

More About Liquids: Thick and Thin


You can actually walk on this stuff!  My son wanted to try it after seeing this You Tube video.

(There are a few other walking on cornstarch videos out there if you are really into this!)


1) I STRONGLY recommend that you either do this outside in an area that you can just hose off afterwards, or use a vinyl tablecloth that you can remove and hose off afterwards.  Why didn’t I use mine?

2) Be sure to add the water a bit at a time, it is easy to overdo it.

3) If you do forget the tablecloth like I did, you will find that non-Newtonian fluids can be difficult to clean off a table.  When you try wiping what looks like liquid, it turns into a solid and sticks.

When you stop scrubbing it returns to a liquid state!  After a bit of frustration I used my science brain and poured water on the table.  I was able to wipe the now runny cornstarch liquid into a trash can.


Although I suggested it humorously yesterday, I have actually had several votes for an Unplugged Project theme next week involving “sort, trash, junk, donate.”  Well, why not??

As Captain Jean-Luc Picard would have said (see, I haven’t always been without a TV!):  “Make it so.”

Let’s call next week’s theme:


Remember, the theme can be loosely interpreted if you don’t feel like cleaning your house this week.  Just be creative and have fun!

Kitchen – Weekly Unplugged Project

By , November 9, 2008 9:46 pm

Anyone who read my last post will know that I have been sorting and cleaning like a crazy person this week.  Today I tackled the dreaded playroom.  The kids played at a friend’s house.

What does the playroom and a friend’s house have to so with this week’s Unplugged Project theme of kitchen you ask?  Well, not a whole lot.

We didn’t get to it on time.  Again.

Tomorrow is a half day at school because of parent-teacher conferences, so I am pretty optimistic that I can tear myself away from the playroom for long enough to do a kitchen project.  Hopefully I’ll post ours tomorrow night.

EDITED TO ADD:  Here’s our kitchen project – Oobleck!


If you have done a kitchen project this week, then please post a link to your project (rather than just your blog) below in Mr. Linky.  If you have not, but wish to know more about joining in future Unplugged Projects, then please read more about it all here.


At the moment, I am “themeless” – is that a word?  So unless we want to do a theme of sort, junk, trash, or donate … then I’d better announce next week’s Unplugged Project theme when I post our project tomorrow night!

EDITED TO ADD: For our kitchen project and the final choice of next week’s theme, please visit my kitchen post here!


My Week

By , November 8, 2008 10:21 pm

Yes, I am still alive. The blog has been silent this week, which means that my life has not. 

There has been Brownies, Cub Scouts, Music Together, a field trip to the Waste Water Treatment Plant, and various volunteering activities at school … plus don’t forget the never-ending laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and tidying.  I am pretty sure you all are familiar with this situation.

I even missed the semi-annual Blog Blast For Peace for the first time in a year and a half (sorry Mimi!).

Tidying has been particularly intense the past few days.  The contractor completed the last stage of replacing the carpet with wood floor.  This time it was the older kids’ rooms and the stairs.

This meant that the copious contents of the two oldest children’s rooms were regurgitated all over the bottom floor of the house.  I am faced with a complete and utter disaster.  If a tornado had hit, it could not possibly have been worse.

Clutter makes me mad, so my only option was to attack it all today (my first day free of other activities) or “go postal.”

So far I have gotten rid of four garbage bags of trash, plus a large box for the thrift store (the kids keep taking things out of it though, so that part is still under negotiation).

I am tired and grumpy, but after much quality time and “help” (or not) from my three children,  I leave you with this deeply philosophical thought:

Why do children want to “help” all the time when they are 2 and you don’t really want them to; but when they are 6 and 8 and you need their help, they are no longer so enthusiastic?

Aaaargh……     #*^^%#()_+@

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