Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Since I’m at a summer camp, I spend a lot of time making lanyards. Along the way, I’ve learned how to make some pretty cool ones. So today, I’m going to teach you how to start a lanyard. Also, if you need lanyard string, supposedly you can buy some at Wal-Mart.

I like to start a lanyard over my thumb, since it’s easier for me. If you can do without, go ahead. To start with, lay out your strings as you want, making a big “X”. A normal lanyard has one string lying the other way, and another lying another. You can make lanyards with as many strings as you want/can manage. Lay the “X” on your index finger, and pinch with your thumb. Make sure the bottom string is going up/down, and the other is going left/right. Take the up/down string(s), and loop it over, to make “bunny ears”. Now, for the lanyard, you want to go over/under, or if it’s bigger, over/under/over/under/etc. The key to getting your lanyard started is this pattern – I remember the word “overhang”. When you are choosing which side of the left/right string goes where, make sure the string is going over the hanging up/down bunny-ear on that side. If not, you need to switch where it is, or when you pull it tight, it’s not going to work. This is also true for larger lanyards. Then, pull it tight in an “x” formation, until you get your little lanyard checker-board. Voila! You’ve got a started lanyard.

Coming soon: The Basic Lanyard

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to fancify a big t-shirt

Since I was tie-dying with a camper group, I ended up with the last pick of t-shirts, and therefore I got an extra-large t-shirt. Since the shirt is so big on me, I decided to have fun altering it to make it cute-sy. I’m sure people do this all the time, but I never have, so here’s what I did.

I cut the shirt up the sides, all the way up to the arm pits. Then I took one side of the t-shirt, with the two pieces still on top of each other, and cut strips all the way up, about one inch apart. I did the same thing on the other side. Then, I tied all of the strips together, so it looks like little bows or whatever all the way up the sides. I plan on tying back the sleeves as well, since they are so big. I’ll probably end up using hair ties to do this, but I wish I had ribbon. I’ll get to show off my farmer’s tan. =P Add a cami underneath, and I’ll be all good to go!

Monday, June 27, 2011


So over the weekend, I tie-dyed with a bunch of high schoolers. They really seemed to enjoy it, and I always love tie-dye. My favorite part is taking off the rubber bands and finding out what your design looks like!

Here’s what you need to do tie-dye:
- Water
- Dye
- Bottles
- Gloves
- Rubber Bands
- Something to tie-dye

Other helpful but optional items:
- Buckets
- Plastic Grocery Bags
- Plastic table covering
- Preservative (Like vinegar)

Here’s what you do:

1. Take your t-shirt (or whatever you’re tie-dying) and rubber band it according to which pattern you want. See below for the three I know how to do.

2. Soak your t-shirt in preservative (like vinegar). If you don’t have any, just soak it in water.

3. Use the bottled tie-dye (follow package instructions to prepare) to dye your shirt. You will need a lot of dye for your shirt to turn out well – even if every part of the shirt you can see is dyed, the rest of the shirt may not be. This is especially true for the swirl pattern. Any white showing means a lot of white showing when it’s unraveled later. So basically, the more dye the better. You might want to do this over a bucket to prevent spills, and even so, a disposable plastic table covering might help as well. Make sure you have gloves so your hands don’t end up looking like Easter eggs.

4. Place your shirt in a plastic bag to dry, or just leave it out somewhere (perhaps in a bucket) to dry.

5. Wash your shirt. If you have a washing machine available, wash the shirt by itself in cold water. I wouldn’t advise washing whites in the next load. If you don’t have a washing machine available, wash the shirt in a sink until the water runs clear. Don’t take the rubber bands out for this, as it will cause the dye to run to the white parts of your shirt. Leave shirt to dry again.

6. You’re done! You have a happy tie-dyed shirt.

Types of tie-dye:

- Swirl - This one is my personal favorite. It is the classic tie-dye look. To get this effect, lay the t-shirt (or other item) flat. Choose where you want the middle of the swirl to be, and pinch the fabric there. Twist your hand around so the fabric follows in a swirl pattern – don’t lift your hand as you go, and don’t force a pattern. The fabric should do it on its own. You may have to guide the sleeves into place though. Once you have a cinnamon-roll looking t-shirt, rubber band around it, as many times as you want, however you want. Picture below!

- Stripes – Accordion fold your t-shirt, and rubber band where you want each stripe to begin and end.

- Bulls-eyes – Pinch parts of the shirt up and rubber band them, so you have a bunch of rubber-glove-finger-looking-things all around the t-shirt. Wherever you do this, you will get a cool bulls-eye effect. You can also combine this with the swirl effect by swirling the middle and doing this on the outside.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friendship Bracelets with Words!

I taught a bunch of high schoolers how to do this today - it's a bit hard to pick up, but if you are good at other friendship bracelets, you should be fine. =)

For this bracelet, you need eight strings of your letter color. These strings don’t need to be as long as normal friendship bracelet strings, but they can be if you want “just-in-case” room. You also need a suuuper long string for your background color. (I'd suggest one the length of your wingspan to start with, and then tie a new string on as needed). You may just have to tie a new one on – this string is used for most of the bracelet.

For this bracelet, instead of working in rows, you are going to use your long, background string to work back and forth. The first row, you work forward with forward knots as usual, and for the second row, you work backwards with backwards knots as usual. You work back and forth with this. You need a pattern for the words – here’s the one I like to use, from

I’m going to use the letter ‘A’ as an example for this. Assume you are working forward when you reach the letter ‘A’ – You are making these side-ways, by the way. Assume your letter strings are labeled 1-8, and I am going to call the background string, ‘b’. Make one forward knot (by knot, I mean your normal two-knot thing) with b on string 1. Then, make a backwards knot with string 2 on b. Make a backwards knot with string 3 on b. Continue making backwards knots in this fashion until you reach string 7. Make a normal forward knot with string b on strings 7 and 8. Now, working backwards, make a backwards knot on string 8, with b. Make a forwards not on b with 7, make a backwards knot on 6 and 5 with b, make a forward knot with 4 on b, and make backwards knots on 3-1 with b. Now working forwards again, make forward knots on 1-3 with b, a backwards knot on b with 4, make forwards knots on 5 and 6 with b, make a backwards knot on b with 7, and make a forward knot on 8 with b. etc.

To sum it up, if you are moving forwards, to make a background color, make a forwards knot, and to make a letter color, make a backwards knot. Reverse this if you are moving backwards.

It says "MOUSE" because that's my camp name.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Braid-Pattern Friendship Bracelet

This is the most complicated friendship bracelet. You must do this one with four colors/eight strings. For this one, you definitely want to measure longer strings – for medium-tightness or loose knots, use your “wingspan” as the measuring point for this. You can go a bit shorter than that for tight knots.

Order your colors in order – for example, red/red/blue/blue/green/green/yellow/yellow. Make five forward knots with the first string (red number 1). Make four forward knots below that with the second string (red number 2). Make three knots below that with the third string (blue number 1) Make two knots below that (blue number two). The string order should now be green/green/blue/blue/red/red/yellow/yellow. Now, do the same thing backwards (with backwards knots). You should use yellow 1, yellow 2, red 1 and red 2. Your new order should be green/green/yellow/yellow/red/red/blue/blue. Continue working back and forth with the 5-4-3-2 pattern until you are done.

Up next: Friendship bracelets with words

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

V-Pattern Friendship Bracelet

For this bracelet you probably want at least three colors. I prefer three colors/six strings, but it would probably look cool with four colors/eight strings as well. You must have two strings of each colors, or else your bracelet’s going to look awfully weird. If you are using more than six strings, you may want to make your strings a little bit longer to make a full bracelet.

Set up your strings like this:
Take the first string (orange) and do normal knots as you would for the diagonal bracelet. Do this on the first green and blue strings. Leave the bracelet like this. Now you are going to take the far orange string (the one you haven’t used yet), and make a backwards knot – make a backwards “L” this time. Do the same two-knot thing on each string until you reach the middle, working backwards. Then, do two knots on the original orange string. You have now completed the first “V” of the bracelet. Repeat this whole process with the next color, etc, until you finish the bracelet.

Note: It is especially important that the middle knot (where the same colors are used, example orange/orange) is tight.

Up next: Braid-pattern friendship bracelet

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Diagonal Friendship Bracelet

I’ve known how to make these for a while, and my friend (who also works at a Girl Scout camp) taught me the more complex patterns. I just recently figured out how to make ones with words (which are super cool!), but that’s for another post.

To make the diagonal bracelet you can choose as many colors as you like – the more strings you have, the fatter it is. If you want a two colored bracelet, I recommend two or three strings of either color. If you want three colors, you should use two strings of each color. For four colors and up, you probably only want to use one string of each color, but it’s up to you. Each length of string should be about as long as from the palm of your hand to your armpit – it’s usually a good indication of what will fit your wrist. How accurate this is will depend on the tightness of your knots though. Tie all of these strings together at the top – it is helpful to make a loop at the top, but not necessary. Just remember to leave enough room that you can tie the bracelet on when you’re done.

For the example, I’m using four strings. If you have multiples of the same color, splaying them out with the colors next to each other (red/red/blue/blue) will create thicker stripes. Alternating the colors (red/blue/red/blue for example) will give you the normal thinner stripes. Take the first string (blue in the example) and make an “L” with it over the next string (red in the example). Tie a knot as shown. Do this twice (total of two knots) on the second string (the red one). Then, do this two times on the next string (the yellow) and two times on the last string (the green). Now, the blue string is the last string. Don’t worry if your first row looks weird – it always does. Just keep going. Now, repeat the whole process with the now-first string (red). Repeat, repeat, repeat, until you are done with your bracelet!

Note: Make sure you hold the string being tied on (the red, yellow, green in the first example) tightly – the color of the knot should be of the one you are working with (blue in the example). If it isn’t, pull the string you are working on (red/yellow/green in the example). To make it easier to work with, you probably want to secure the end of the bracelet to something. Popular ways of doing this are: taping it somewhere, attaching it to a water bottle and placing that between your legs, safety-clipping it to your pants, tying it to your toe, and clipping in your cell phone.

Coming soon: V-pattern bracelet, braid-pattern bracelet, bracelets with words!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Easiest Friendship Bracelet

This is the best friendship bracelet to introduce to elementary-school kids, because it’s easier to pick up. It also uses the same knot as every other friendship bracelet, so it’s a good introduction to making them.

Gather as many strings as you want for this one – I would recommend at least three. Tie them together at the top, leaving a loop if you so desire. Then, make an “L” with the first string, as shown below.
Then, pull the string under all of the other strings, and tie a knot, as shown below. If you see a color other than theone you are working with (blue in the picture), hold the bracelet down, and pull hard on the colors you are not working with. Repeat this as many times as you want (maybe around 10 times or so), and then switch colors, and continue to do the same thing.

A fun thing to do with this type of bracelet is to take six strings, two each of three colors, and tie them all together at the top, but then create two separate three-color strands. You can “tie” these together in the middle, and then continue to make separate strands. It looks cool, and is easy and fun.

Next up: Diagonal Friendship Bracelet

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dining with Joy

Something new every day, right? So here’s a book I just finished and enjoyed.

My favorite genre of book is Christian Chick-Lit. There is always a happy ending, and it’s a nice escape from “real life”, my job, whatever. They’re usually light, easy reads. This is the first time I’d tried this author (for other good books in this genre, check out Melody Carlson or Erynn Mangum).

"Dining with Joy" by Rachel Hauck is about a cooking show host named Joy who took over the business after her father’s death. Thing is, she can’t actually cook. And for this year’s show, the production manager wants to add a brand new cohost. This is a lovely Christian romance book, with nice plot twists, and unexpected turns. The only downside of this book would be the amount of time it took to get to the “happy ending”. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend it.

Also, apparently there are two books “before” it, story-wise, “Love Starts with Elle” and “Sweet Caroline”. To be honest, I don’t think you have to read them first. I sure didn’t.

Here’s a link to the book on

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This week at camp is pirate week, so here are a couple (hopefully true) pirate facts. And a fun pirate snack.

- Why did pirates have parrots with them? Although it is difficult to say with 100% certainty why, historians (anthropologists?) believe that they carried parrots for the same reason they did everything else – gold! Since they were travelling everywhere anyways, they’d catch the beautiful birds, and bring them to rich people, who I’m sure paid a pretty penny to keep the birds as a pet. And that meant more money for the pirates.

- Why did pirates wear eye patches? Yes, they may have used some of them to protect hurt eyes (just as they wore peg-legs in place of a real one), but I think there’s another reason they wore them. Have you ever walked from a very bright place, outside maybe, to a dark place really quickly? It takes a bit for your eyes to adjust, for your pupils to dilate enough to see correctly. Pirate ships are a bit like this – down below is quite dark, where the deck during the day is probably pretty bright. Imagine you were in the middle of a fight, or had to run below deck to grab that important bottle of rum – you wouldn’t want to take the time for your eyes to adjust. So you’d just keep one eye adjusted to the dark all of the time. Time to go in the dark? Just flip your patch up!

- The "skull and crossbones" flag is called the "Jolly Roger".

A pirate snack – Walk the Plank Jello

Our ridiculously wonderful camp cooks (seriously, I though camp food was supposed to be bad?) made this yesterday, and I thought it was cute. All you need is blue Jello, wafer cookies, and Swedish fish. For each serving, scoop the Jello into a small bowl, and stick a couple of Swedish fish in it. Then, lay the wafer cookie on top – now you can deliciously walk the plank! It is cute and it tastes good!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ponderosa Pines

Ponderosa Pines are scaly, tall pine trees that often only have branches near the top. They are found in Northern Arizona, and other nearby places. They look like this:

Cool things I bet you didn’t know about Ponderosa Pines:

1. If you smell a Ponderosa pine (preferably between the crack in the bark, closer to the core of the tree), most people agree it smells like something sweet. I’ve heard everything from chocolate to vanilla to cupcakes to pecan pie. So next time you’re near a Ponderosa pine, smell it!

2. Did you know that fires are essential to a Ponderosa pine based ecology? There are a couple types of wildfires, and one is natural and good, and the other is bad. Without humans stopping wildfires (to protect property and people), most wildfires don’t get that tall. They burn the brush and ‘litter’ (dead branches, pine needles, etc.) underneath the trees, burn the lower branches of the trees, and kill smaller trees. They would naturally happen often enough that litter is pretty controlled under the trees. Killing the smaller trees would allow the bigger trees to keep growing and gain access to more nutrients. Without these natural fires, litter builds up under the trees, and the fueled fire can ‘climb’ the trees with the now-existent lower branches. The fire reaches the tops of the trees, creating a canopy fire. Since the trees are denser than usual, the fire can spread from tree to tree. And that’s how we have our unnatural forest fires that sterilize the area – Ponderosa pines probably won’t reappear for another hundred years.

Anyway, since fires are essential to a Ponderosa pine’s ecology, the Ponderosa is fire-resistant. When a fire comes nearby, the tree’s bark shoots out to create a protective layer around the tree. This is why the bark is originally scaly.

As a random side-note, Sequoias are also fire-resistant.

Fire-resistant bark!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Since I’m at a summer camp, and we sleep out with the campers once a week, I’m trying to learn new constellations to teach them. Here are a few I can easily find in the summer.

The Big Dipper

Most people (even young kids) can find this. The only person I met who didn’t know where it was is from New Zealand… and they don’t have that constellation there.

It looks like this:

There are seven stars – three for the handle and four for the cup. The one star that connects the handle to the cup is the hardest to see – depending on where you live and how clear the sky is, you might not be able to see it at all. To find this constellation, look northward and up in the sky. In the summer it is more towards the center of the sky than near the horizon. You can see this year round in the northern hemisphere. (For the most part).
The only reason I am fond of this constellation is because it fits in with the story of my favorite constellation, Orion. Orion the Hunter is an easy-to-find winter constellation, who is followed by his faithful dog (star) Sirius. He and Scorpius are enemies, which is why they are never seen in the same sky together. In the summer months, Scorpius is easy to find. The first thing to look for is a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 pattern, as shown below. Some people say it looks like a seven, or a question mark. These are the brightest stars of the constellation, and the middle of each three is brighter than the rest.

The real constellation is actually huge – here’s a real picture from

Usually most of this is below the horizon – you have to stay up later to see the whole thing, especially early on in the summer.

(Scorpius is a scorpion by the way).

Corona Borealis

According to Wikipedia, the name is latin for “Northern Crown”, which is cool. This is usually found in about the center of the sky – great for star gazing – you’ve gotta lay on your back to see it. Here’s how I find it – my friends and I thought that maybe it was a parachute at first. There are three stars in a curve below it, and, matching the curve, above those are five or so stars. The five stars in a “U” shape make the crown, but finding the three/five makes it easier for me to find. At least, I think what I’m seeing is this constellation…


Here’s my “new” thing for the day.

So here’s the story: I work at a summer camp. Today, the bus was two hours late, so there were ton of kids waiting around with nothing to do. So we brought out the parachute.

Here’s what you can do with a parachute:

1. The basics – Have each child grab a handle or a colored triangle, if there are no handles. Have everyone run in a circle, in either direction. Have them wiggle the parachute.

2. “Jello” – All at once have the children lift the parachute as high as they can. Have them pull the parachute around them and have them sit on it. Everyone should be inside a giant “Jello”. Wiggle it back and forth. Hooray.

3. The color game – This is my personal favorite. Have the children wiggle the parachute up and down, and then, all at once, lift the parachute as high as they can. While the parachute is up, call a color (corresponding to the colored triangles), and those children must run under the parachute and find a new place to stand before the parachute falls. This game works in any environment.

4. Shark attack – This game works better in a gym, or on a hard, smooth floor. Have every child sit down with their feet under the parachute. Choose a couple of sharks and a couple of lifeguards. The sharks crawl under the parachute and try to pull people under by their feet. The lifeguards try to save people being pulled under. Once pulled under, they become a shark as well. Have the children on the outside wiggle the parachute high enough that you can’t tell where the sharks are, but low enough that they can’t look under and see the sharks coming.

5. Cat/Mouse – I didn’t actually play this game today, but a camper explained it to me. There are two or three mice who crawl under the parachute. There are two or three cats who crawl on top of the parachute trying to find the mice. Everyone else wiggles the parachute to make it hard to find the mice. From the sound of it, I think this would only work in a gym setting.

6. Popcorn – When I was in elementary school, we had a bunch of yarn balls that we put on the parachute to make “popcorn”. I remember it being fun, but I don’t remember the point of it. (You make “popcorn” by wiggling the parachute). I managed to find two squishy balls today, and we bounced them around for a while, but without a goal, it got boring real fast.
So that’s my “new thing” for today. I hope you enjoy!

(Picture from
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