Edible DNA

This week in school we are learning about DNA. My son is very visual and hands on so I knew that we would have to throw a project that involved 3-D representation in there somewhere. I found a bunch of ideas at Science Matters and considered some of them but in the end decided to go with the classic Marshmallow DNA model

Here are our supplies:



mini fruit flavor marshmallows

I separated the marshmallows into the four colors, put each in it’s bag and labeled each color as a base; yellow=T, green=G, orange=A and pink=C.

Since I wasn’t the one doing this project I didn’t get to take many pictures but the basic idea is that since base A always pairs with base T and base C always pairs with base G, you make pairs using those bases on toothpicks and then attach the pairs to the Twizzlers like rungs on a ladder and twist.


Voila! DNA!

Then we went a step further and decided to build a protein using our base marshmallows and a amino acid codex. Since real proteins have a LOT of amino acids we made one up. We named it Oswaldin and decided it was in octopus ink. (who get’s the reference?)

I gave the boy a sequence of amino acids and he figured out the bases needed to make them (we changed T to U) and attached them three to a toothpick. Than we attached the amino acids in the correct order to make our protien.

Here’s what it looked like:



It was a fun activity and it brought the point across to the boy better than a worksheet or any amount of reading could.

Plus it was delicious ūüėČ


Rib Cage Tee Shirt

I found this on Pinterest. I was searching for a DIY Halloween shirt because we are going to a free showing of the movie Hocus Pocus this week ad I wanted to look festive. My daughter is dressing up (costumes are encouraged) as a deer and my son as a hunter. I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear an actual costume, but I did want to get in the spirit.

There were several pins for “skeleton tees”, some of them looked like skulls, some like rib cages, some were very abstract, some more realistic. I decided I wanted the ribcage kind and that the best one was at marthastewart.com¬†because it had templates for the rib cage.

I took a trip to Wal~mart to pick out a shirt. My original plan was to buy a purple too and put a lime green tank under it but then I realized that a tank would be too low cut. Plus I couldn’t find either of those things for a reasonable price. What I did find was an orange oversize tee shirt for $5. Bingo! I would wear it over my black turtleneck.

Once at home I printed out my templates, laid out my tee shirt and got to work!

Martha’s directions say to fold the shirt so the side seams line up, lay it on a cutting mat, attach the template with adhesive spray and cut out the holes with a rotary cutter.

Well, I don’t have a rotary cutter, adhesive spray or a cutting mat. I was forced to improvise.

Here is what I did.

First of all, here is one of the templates.


I cut out the black sections to make a stencil and lined it up with the center of the front of the shirt.


Then I lined the shirt with a sheet of tinfoil and traced with a sharpie. When the first side was done I flipped the stencil over and did the other side of the shirt.


I did the same thing on the back with the back template.


At this point all (ha!) I had left to do was to cut out all the bone sections. It was not easy. I can totally see why Martha recommends the rotary cutter people. It is very difficult to cut tee shirt material and my scissors suck. By the time I was done my eyes hurt, my back hurt and I was really tired of cutting out bone shapes.

But I did it peeps!

When I was finally done I had a tee shirt that looks like this:


and this:


Which I have come to believe is a kind of visual representation of my sanity.

I am very happy with how the front turned out! The back? Not so much. My daughter liked it though, she said it looked like hanging flesh. We’ll go with that but I think if you try this you should just do the front.

And  use the rotary cutter.  Seriously.

Edited to add a picture of me in my shirt and Halloween bow and one of my kids in costume ūüôā


Fall Gourd

When we went apple picking the other day we did not pick pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Why not? (you ask) Because we are cheap and you can get pumpkins for a lot less at Lowes or Walmart. Plus, most of them were a little soft from sitting in the field too long.

We did get gourds though. Because they were $.99.

But that left me stuck with a gourd to decorate instead of a pumpkin and you can’t carve gourds.

So I looked up no-carve pumpkin decorating on Pinterest and I came up with this…

pumkin decorating header

DIY Pumpkin decorating from The Sweet Escape

I knew we would need little leaves because gourds are smaller than pumpkins.

The daughter and I hit the front yard and found some, then came inside to get our craft on!


I skipped the part where she painted the pumpkin because I figured my gourd was pale enough already.

Let me tell you, I’m not sure if it was because my gourd was so small and rounded or because I am uncoordinated, but it is NOT easy to get those suckers to lay anything near flat.

After a crap ton of mod podge and a lot of frustration, this was the result:


Yeah…not so good.

I basically decided to wait until the mod podge was at least partially dry and then try to stick the edges down. I was only somewhat successful.


As you can see, although they are definitely better attached, they are still not glued down flat like in the original project.

You can probably also tell that I added something. It didn’t show up well in the pictures but we gave the gourd a bit of fine, red, glitter. It actually makes the gourd catch the light and really improved the project. You can’t tell from the pictures though, because my camera picked now to run low on batteries which meant crappy(er) pictures.

Also, once it was fully dry, the gourd had a nice shine from the mod podge. Would have taken a picture but, you know, dead battery.

It turned out worse than I was hoping and better than I thought it would after first trying to stick those leaves on. Not sure if that makes it a win or a fail? Either way it was not an easy or a fun project, at least not with a gourd.

I would recommend springing for the pumpkin.

Pose-able Mummy

I got this idea from Family Chic


an adorable little mummy you can pose!

For this you need:
Flexible wire
Wire Clips

I wanted to make this an upcycle project so I asked hubby if he had any wire I could use.

He gave me this:


Wire cutting pliers and some more of that copper wire we used in the ill fated wine bottle bird feeder.

Works for me!

I bent that sucker into  a vaguely human shaped shape.


I wanted to make his arms longer but I had just enough to make it as is.

Now for the “wrapping”. I didn’t have any muslin but I did have some rolled gauze left over from when my dad had surgery.

But not much. So I had the idea to bulk up my mummy form before putting the gauze on by wrapping it in duck tape first.

I planned to use white tape but found out it had been used up by my husband when he installed the AC units this spring (what? Can’t you use the regular silver kind for that?).

All I had left was zebra tape.


Good news is…mummy look FABULOUS!

Once you got all the gauze on (all 2 rolls) he looked more mummy-like.


and he certainly is pose-able!

Although when I tried to sit him like the mummy in the picture, I ended up with this:


so apparently my wire was not as flexible as it could have been. Also, his arms are too short.

All in all I was happy with him. He is super cute and is pose-able, if a little stiff. It was pretty easy too, and not expensive, even if I had to buy wire and gauze (or muslin).

I do suggest you invest in the right wire if you are going to make this, and make sure your mummy’s limbs are plenty long. Also, skipping the duct tape step (or not adding it) would be a good idea.

My take on tiny. moveable mummies?



Spooky Spiders in a Jar

I saw this craft on Mason Jar Love and thought it was scary/awesome and looked so easy!


I already had a mason jar and craft paint so I went to Dollar Tree to pick up a package of spider webs, and a light.  I was all set to go!


However, things started going bad almost right away.

First of all the light I bought did not work. I should learn not to buy anything that has the possibility to “not work” at Dollar Tree.

Than the package of webbing only had 4 plastic spider rings in it. What a rip off! Of course by the time I sat own to do this the store was closed. I guess my spider jar will just have to be sparsely populated. Maybe there was some kind spider plague or someone set off a spider bomb or something.

Oh well…onward!

The first thing you need to do is snip off the “ring” portion of the spider rings.


Then you fluff the webbing and stuff it in the jar.  That part was easy.

Next you place the spider amongst  the webbing in the jar. That part is not so easy.

Those stupid plastic spiders get caught on the webbing and do not want to move down the side of the jar, You end up with them all bunched up at the top. I had to remove half of the webbing to get some spider lower in the jar.

Once they were all in there I put on the cover and painted it with black acrylic craft paint.


I also added a bit to the outsie of the jar to make it look dirty (and maybe because I got some on there by mistake and decided to make pretend I did that on purpose).


I really liked how these turned out despite the lack of lighting and sparseness of spiders. Plus you could conceivably re-use the mason Jar once Halloween is over, you would just need a new cover. In my opinion a better use of spider’s webbing then trying to stretch it out and stick in the bushes, which is what I usually do.

Spooky? I’m not so sure…

DSCF9802  DSCF9808

but better than clumpy webs in bushes.

DIY Shrinky Dinks

I found the idea for these DIY Shrinky Dinks on Curbly.


Basically, you draw on some #6 plastic with sharpies and then cook it in the oven for a bit and they shrink like shrinky dinks. Pretty cool! I loved those things when I was a kid.

This was pretty easy too since I had some #6 plastic just hanging around.


The rectangular one looks cloudy because it got dirty and I scratched the living heck out of it trying to get the salad dressing off it. didn’t work either. I finally had to use windex. ¬†The pin said clean plastic, I made it clean.

The next step is to cut off the sides so that you have a flat piece of plastic…


The circular piece reminded me of candy corn so I separated the wedge shaped bits and colored them…


What was left looked kind of like a snowflake to me so I colored it with a silver sharpie. At this point I started thinking snow so I drew a snowman shape on the flat piece, punched a hole in it for a hanger and placed them all on a foil lined cookie sheet. My hope was that I would get a Christmas ornament out of this but really, I just wanted to see if it would work.

The directions said to put foil directly on the rack to hold the pieces but I knew that would end badly for my clumsy self so I went with the cookie sheet for easier removal.

Here are all my pieces before…


and after.


It worked! Of course some worked better than others. I like how the snowman came out and some of the candy corn came out well too, but others were a bit curly.


And that “snowflake”?


It ended up looking more like a squashed bug.

According to the instructions you should be able to flatten out the curly ones if you act fast enough, but I guess I wasn’t fast enough.

Anyway…I did like how most of these turned out and I think that I will try them again soon. I’m calling it a win even though some of them were seriously messed up. I think i will try tracing some pictures instead of freehanding it since an artist I ‘aint.

My daughter says she would like to make some too so it looks like another trip to the salad bar is in order!


I made another ornament this morning. At the request of my daughter I made a stained glass type ornament using an image from Daily Coloring Pages.

After tracing, coloring and cutting it out, into the oven it went…



You can’t really tell from the photo but that’s about 3″ in diameter.

Here it is when it was done it looked like this:



I really like how it came out but will start with a larger image next time. Also, I forgot to punch a hole to hang this “duh”.

Halloween Lantern Jars

Time for another Halloween craft!

This time I picked these Halloween Decoupage jars from Taste of Home.


Cute, no?

I dug out my Mod Podge, found a jar and picked up some Halloween themed tissue paper.


Then I cut the tissue paper of choice into strips…


slathered that jar up with Mod Podge…


and stuck the paper on there.


As you can see, there wasn’t good stickage where the strips of tissue paper overlapped. ¬†I tried to fix that with my top coat of Mod Podge,


After coating that jar I realized it might be too dark to be an effective lantern. Plus I wanted to try and make one with a face so I went in search of another jar and found this little guy.


and covered it with the orange-ish tissue.


Next I printed off some faces from the Taste of Home website, cut them out and Mod Podged them on.


Isn’t it cute?

I left them to dry overnight and this was the finished product!


This was a pretty easy project except for the part where you smooth out the tissue paper. That part didn’t go so well. I also ended up covered in Mod Podge but that could have been me. My fine motor skills are not the best if truth be told. The top edges were difficult for me too. I had to apply more Mod Podge in the morning to neaten them up.


As you can see the candy corn jar is not too dark for the light to shine through, although the jar got very hot after just a few minutes so I’m not sure that using it for a candle holder is such a great idea. The Jack-o-Lantern was fine, but then I was just burning a birthday candle in it. I think I will try a tea light in that one later and just plan on putting candy in the other one! I also didn’t like how obvious the parts where the tissue paper overlapped were.

Frankly I thought they came out OK…it worked but not something I’d display for company or give as gifts or anything. If I were to try again (and I just might) I would be more careful when overlapping and with the top edge.



Not so much. Also messy and a possible fire hazard.