Monday, August 4, 2014

Tablecloth weights: who knew?


I was sitting on the patio at my in-laws’ house enjoying a nice cup of coffee when something gently bonked my leg. It was a teeny, tiny silver elephant, which was clipped to the corner of the tablecloth. This wee pachyderm appeared to be weighing down the tablecloth so it wouldn’t flutter up and blow away. A tablecloth weight! How genius! Who knew?

It turns out, after an exhaustive Google search, that there are about a zillion kinds of clip-on tablecloth weights that you can purchase instantly, and for not too much $$, either.  Check these out:

First off, how about the cute, little pewter RVs pictured above! Come on, campers, you know you want ‘em. http://dgworld.co.uk/blog/outdoor-cooking-equipments-romes-2034-set-of-4-2-5-inch-x-1-inch-vintage-rv-tablecloth-weights/

Or these slightly creepy 2” large black ants (these ones won’t spoil your picnic … in fact they might save it). You can find these at: http://www.organizeit.com/tablecloth-weights-set-of-ants.asp


And who doesn’t appreciate a little encouragement at the table? How about some Happy Luck Smile Love pebble clips? http://www.gardens2you.co.uk/garden-accessories/set-of-four-clip-on-grey-pebble-table-cloth-weights-outdoor-garden-accessory.html


But if you're like me you're probably thinking, hey, I could make those! So here are some instructions to make ‘em yourself: http://www.home-dzine.co.za/crafts/craft-tableweight.htmI think once you figure out the clippy things, you can attach just about anything, like a painted rock, seashell, or even a little bag of sand or pennies.

If you do craft a set, please send me pictures! I want to see what you created.  Meanwhile, I guess I don’t have to weigh down my tablecloths with ketchup bottles anymore…

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade camping fire starters put to the test! (hint: the Girl Scouts win.)


Kettletown, CT State Park provided these handy little firestarters
We made two firestarters for our last camping trip, and the campground gave us one when we bought wood so we decided to do an in-the-field comparison of all three. We saved the scientific test for the last day, which was good because we got a lot of dew that morning and the kindling and newspaper was all damp and didn't want to catch!

Firestarter 1: Wood chips and wax
The campground gave us starters made out of woodchips and wax, housed in those tiny paper cups they give out medication in at mental institutions. 

Results: The lip on the paper cup made a good wick, so the starters caught fire right away. They burned steadily and didn't go out.  I did wish they made more of a blaze, though, since everything was so damp.

Firestarter 2: Toilet paper rolls and dryer lint

We used graph paper because we didn't have any newspaper
These firestarters were fun and easy to make. Simply save up your dryer lint and empty toilet paper rolls, stuff the lint into the rolls, wrap in newspaper and tuck in the ends.

Results: Maybe these would start faster if we had used newspaper and not graph paper (apparently we don't know what's going on in the world but what we do know we like to chart). But either way, I had the same conclusion as with the wood chip starters, which is that the lint didn't make much of a blaze, so I had to tease the flame with bits of this and that to get it going.

Firestarter 3: Egg cartons and crayons, or "Fire Kisses"

"Fire Kisses" in the making
Our friend Samantha turned us on to "Fire Kisses" - the firestarters she made in the Girl Scouts. These are egg cartons with saw dust and wax (or old, broken crayons) wrapped in wax paper. We did a version of these with scraps of paper and wax bits, and we stuck them in a very low oven to melt the wax.

Results: As Samantha predicted, these worked the best! You break them off one by one and use them as needed. The egg carton cardboard catches really fast and the combination of cardboard, paper and wax made a flame that was big enough to get our damp, morning fire going. Go, Girl Scouts! (And thanks to Samantha. )


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