DIY Snow Cones: A Natural Taste of Summer

Ah, summertime.

Favorite memories of the season often include a combination of sun, water and delicious frozen treats, one of which is the classic snow cone. This flavored crushed ice is a simple but universal staple of many memorable summer adventures.

Unfortunately, snow cone syrup is often packed with chemicals, food dyes and hidden sugars that aren’t quite as nutritious as they are fun to eat. If you’re looking to capture the magic of summer in a delicious snow cone without any of the pre-packaged or way-too-sugary syrups, look no further! Here’s how to have fun while making healthier choices this summer.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice
  • ½ to 1 cup of sugar, depending on your preferred tartness of juice
  • Ice
  • Blender, food processor or snow cone maker to shave ice
  • Small saucepan

Image via Flickr user L.A. Foodie

What to do: 

  1. In a small saucepan, combine fruit juice and sugar.
  2. Set saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn to low and simmer for five minutes, stirring until sugar completely dissolves.
  4. Pour syrup into a jar and allow it to cool completely.
  5. Refrigerate for several hours before use.
  6. To make snow cone, mound shaved ice in a snow cone cup or bowl. Pour your homemade syrup over the ice and dig in!

Bonus recipe: 

August also happens to be National Coffee Month. If you’re a kid at heart who still needs their afternoon caffeine, here’s a recipe for a delicious coffee syrup for a cold treat fit for grown ups.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of strong coffee
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbs of lemon juice
  • Small pan

What to do:

  1. Boil ingredients in a small pan.
  2. Set in fridge to cool.
  3. Pour over shaved ice.

The summer celebrations don’t have to stop when school starts! Keep a taste of summer going as long as possible by enjoying after-school snow cones to cool off and celebrate a long day of learning.

What’s your favorite DIY snow cone syrup flavor? Let us know!

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6 Ways to Improve Water Quality Right In Your Backyard

August is National Water Quality Month, which is a great reason to remember that clean water is an invaluable resource to our communities both big and small. Aqua is committed to ensuring water quality. Our efforts to update and maintain infrastructure are one way Aqua helps make a difference, but we like celebrating the simple ways individuals can make a difference, too.

Here are six easy ways you can stand with us in our pledge to protect the water in our communities.

Wash the Days of Disposing of Chemicals in Your Sink or Toilet Down the Drain

If you need to get rid of paint, chemical cleaners or any other questionable liquids, do not dispose of them in your sink! Some of the chemicals in these products can be toxic, so you do not want them to get into your water supply. Instead, it’s easy to find a proper way to dispose of these hazardous waste materials by searching Earth911 or by contacting your local sanitation, public works or environmental health department.

Additionally, non-biodegradable objects such as baby wipes, feminine hygiene products and medicines should never be flushed down the toilet as a method of disposal. Instead, dispose these items in their proper trash receptacles or see if your local pharmacy has a take-back program to safely get rid of pills.

Hit the Road with Improper Car-Washing Techniques

You might think washing your car at home is a no-brainer, but you may be surprised to know that because many car-washing soaps contain mixtures of various chemicals, you could be unknowingly contaminating your water supply.

When you use cleaning products inside your home, the used water goes straight to a treatment plant through sanitary sewer systems. The leftover water from washing a car outside, however, often goes down storm drains and ends up in water supply systems without undergoing proper treatment.

Instead, consider getting your car washed at a commercial business designed to handle all the watery runoff. Professional car washes tend to use 60 percent less water than at-home methods, too. If you prefer to wash your own car, make sure to invest in biodegradable and phosphate-free cleaners. Wash on an area that absorbs water, such as gravel or grass, and use a trigger nozzle on your hose to conserve water. 

Put Your Banana Peels To Good Use

 

Common lawn chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides are often used to care for gardens and yards. When they aren’t used correctly, though, they can enter into streams where they can harm critters and contaminate drinking water.

Instead, consider using compost as a natural fertilizer. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a helpful guide to how to get started. Composting adds nutrients and organic matter back into soil without relying on harmful chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers. 

Make Picking Up Your Pet’s Number Two Your Number One Priority

When you don’t pick up your pet’s waste, you put yourself and your water supply at risk. During rain storms, a lot of this waste runs straight into storm drains that—you guessed it—do not get treated to ensure water quality.

Did you know you can make it a priority for your neighborhood to clean up after its four-legged friends by coming together to install a community waste bag station? Consider fundraising to buy a ready-made waste station, or rise to the challenge building your own.

Throw Litter For a Loop

Litter on streets, sidewalks and parking lots easily washes into our water systems. Even if you would never dream of littering, it’s important to note that it still happens all the time. People are less likely to litter when it isn’t the norm, so instead of relying on others to pick up trash, challenge yourself to lead by example. 

Organize a Community Clean-Up 

The most effective way to protect water quality in your community is to go straight to the source. Enacting a community clean-up of your local watershed can do wonders for your local ecosystem and water supply. There are plenty of existing toolkits that make it as easy as possible for community members to organize clean-up efforts at local rivers or streams.

You can also search for established clean-up projects in your area. Most groups are always looking for volunteers and would be happy to include you in their efforts.

Clearly, a great deal of planning goes into a community clean-up, but a commitment to water quality in the long-run is beneficial to all.

There are so many ways to protect the water in your community. Together we can ensure that the quality of our water remains a priority for ourselves, our families and generations to come. 

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

Photo via Flickr user Fred Rockwood

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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