DIY Stocking Stuffers: Using Water for Holiday Cheer

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care… But what’s that? Oh no, they’re bare!

 

Running out of time to finish your last-minute holiday shopping? As the holidays are quickly approaching, we have some creative DIY stocking stuffer projects that you can easily create for your loved ones this season. Made out of household materials—like water, our favorite crafting tool—you’ll see how reusing everyday items can make some seriously cool and original gifts.

 

Snow Globes 

Image via Wikimedia

Need a way to repurpose those fast food meal toys your kids keep around the house? These DIY snow globes transform their toys into unique gifts.

What you’ll need:

  • Mason jar
  • Figurine
  • Water
  • Glycerin (optional)
  • Glitter
  • Super glue

What to do:

  • Grab an old figurine to use for the focal point of your snow globe
  • Place a liberal amount of glue on the bottom of the figurine and place it inside of the lid
  • Fill the jar with water (you can also add glycerin at this step so that the glitter will float better)
  • Screw the lid on tight, and seal it with super glue so it won't leak

You’re now ready to shake your snow globe and watch the scene come to life!

Lava Lamps 

Image via Wikimedia

Water is one of the only materials necessary for this groovy DIY project.

What you'll need:

  • An empty jar
  • Water
  • Food dye
  • Vegetable oil
  • Antacid tablet

What to do:

  • Fill the empty jar 1/3 with water, then fill the remaining 2/3 with the vegetable oil. Leave about an inch of space towards the top.
  • Add drops of food coloring until you reach a desired color
  • Break an antacid tablet into pieces inside the jar
  • Screw the lid on tight and watch the bubbles fizz and move

This stocking stuffer is guaranteed hours of fun—the lava lamp effect can happen as many times as you break a new antacid tablet.

Block Crayons 

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Have a few dozen broken crayons lying around that the kids don’t use anymore? Yeah, we thought so. Give their favorite coloring tool a facelift with the help of a simple cake pan and kitchen knife in this craft.

What you'll need:

  • Kitchen knife
  • Old crayons
  • Cake tins (preferably with shapes)

What to do:

  • Peel the wrappers off crayons by running them under warm water and scraping off any remaining wrapper pieces with a knife
  • Parents: cut the crayons into tiny pieces no bigger than a pea
  • Be sure to keep the colors separate so your kids can arrange them how they want
  • While they're arranging their colors, preheat the oven to 150 degrees
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the wax melts
  • Remove the shapes from the tin after they cool down. (If they stick to the pan, place them in the freezer for about an hour to help them pop out) 

 

With your finished products, you will have brand-new crayons that kids (especially the toddlers in your life) can use—all without going out and spending money on new crayons!

 

Skip the store lines and expensive gifts this holiday season by showing your loved ones you care with thoughtful handmade gifts. We hope that you’ve enjoyed these fun and watery crafts and that you’re able to use them this holiday season. To keep up your DIY streak by making your own festive holiday candles, head here.

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What Are Toilets Called Around The World?

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Join us in saluting the veterans of Aqua

At Aqua, we feel very grateful that we employ so many veterans who bring their dedication, courage and spirit to our company. As Veterans Day approaches, we want to take some time to recognize and give a special thank you to some of the veterans who work within our Aqua family.

First recognized as Armistice Day in 1919 and eventually broadened to Veterans Day in 1954, the holiday serves as an opportunity to thank, celebrate and remember the individuals who have served and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces. 

“It’s an honor to work alongside the veterans throughout Aqua’s workforce,” said Aqua CEO Chris Franklin. “I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each of the men and women at Aqua who have served, and to wish you a happy Veterans Day.”

We are thankful that these men and women are a part of our team. At Aqua, we will always strive to create opportunities for our veterans and continue to embrace and honor the incredible work they’ve done for our nation.  

“We have long recognized that hiring veterans and members of our military community brings exceptional strengths to the business, which is why we actively engage and recruit talent with military backgrounds,” said Satnaree Brandon, manager of talent acquisition. “Aqua’s core values of integrity, respect and (the pursuit of) excellence align with the training veterans receive while in the service, providing them with a strong foundation in leadership and an exceptional value system that supports and builds on these values when they join our team.”

“Aqua is making a tremendous effort to foster inclusion within our workforce to better reflect the diverse communities we serve,” added Franklin. “Aqua is partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life. The work ethic and camaraderie these service members bring to their teams is an invaluable asset to their fellow employees and our customers.”

We hope you enjoy meeting some of our Aqua employees who have bravely served our country and shared their stories with us. Thank you to all of our veterans, both within our Aqua family and in the communities we serve, for your hard work and bravery. We wish you and your families a very happy Veterans Day.

 

John Aulbach (center), President, Virginia (Virginia)

Military branch: United States Army - Infantry

Rank: Colonel

Years served: 1981–2011

Most interesting deployment/assignment:

My most interesting and demanding assignment and deployment was in 2005 to Iraq commanding a brigade military transition team embedded with an Iraqi light infantry brigade. While interesting, it was also challenging to execute a complex mission across language and cultural barriers.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

As a veteran I am proud to have served and am grateful for the opportunities provided to me to develop within my chosen careers. Additionally, I have deep respect for veterans’ families who bear extreme hardships and am grateful for my wife and children who have been supportive of my profession.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

The ability to work in and lead large organizations built confidence in my own professional skill sets, as well as the ability to draw the maximum effort from each member of a team to accomplish a mission or assignment. My military experiences directly influenced my civilian career and the ability to be successful. 

 

Rickie Daniels, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Lance Corporal

Years served: Four years active duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was with a Joint NATO exercise that took place in Norway in the winter. We had to take winter training for months beforehand. The Norwegian people I had the pleasure of meeting were fantastic hosts and very polite to the American troops.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have had the opportunity to serve in the Marine Corps and help safeguard the freedoms we have in the USA.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being in the military taught me respect and responsibility, which I put to use in my personal and professional life to this day because they serve me well. 

 

Stephen Dunnahoe, Corporate Development Coordinator (Texas)

Military branch: United States Coast Guard

Rank: Logistics E-4

Years served: Six years total (four years active, two years reserve), 1978–1984

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

A year at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak Alaska and being able to visit the Aleutians.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

It has taught me fidelity, integrity, zeal, honor and obedience.  

 

Kirklyn Fields, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: 13 Years with an Honorable Discharge

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I am a Veteran of the Gulf War (Desert Shield and Desert Storm).

 

Charles Meloche, Operator 1 (Indiana)

Military branch: United States Army Military Police

Rank: E-4 (Specialist 4)

Years served: Three years active duty and three years) reserve duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia for all three of my active duty years. My most interesting duty was military prisoner escort to places such as Fort Leavenworth KS (the big house) andFort Riley KS (Retraining Prison).

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I come from a military family and I am very proud of my family’s military history and am proud to have done my part in serving this great nation. Veterans Day is special to me, but I also try to honor veterans all year round. 

Brent C. Reeh, CTX Area Manager (Texas)

Military branch: United States Air Force Reserves

Rank: Master Sergeant (E-7)

Years served: 21

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was to NATO Air Base Aviano AFB, located in northeastern Italy.  

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

Although I spent more than 20 years in the armed service, I have a difficult time considering myself  a veteran - maybe it’s because I consider myself too young to be a veteran? The real veterans are those who didn’t return from the war. It’s about duty, honor, love of country, sacrifice and respect. I proudly served my country for what I was trained to do. 

Aaron Riedmann, Water Treatment Technician (Ohio)

Military branch: Navy

Rank: E-4

Years served: Four years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

My most memorable deployment was to South America for humanitarian assistance. We went to Guatemala to help supply those in need of medical attention. We also built a new school and provided other resources for the locals.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

It means everything for me to be a veteran. I still to this day believe joining the military was the best decision I ever made.   

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being a veteran has made me a better employee/worker. Veterans are always on time, ready to put in the needed work, and able and willing to learn. 

Michael A. Stephens, Area Supervisor III (New Jersey)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Staff Sergeant E-5

Years served: Seven years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Osan Air Base, Osan Korea. I was an Environmental Support Specialist (water and wastewater treatment and operations)and I volunteered to perform as 57th CES Dorm Manager Osan Korea, Honor Guard Tyndall AFB Panama City, Fla. and 348th CES Career Counselor McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I was quite honored to serve my country. The only way I knew to demonstrate how honored I was to be in the U.S. Air Force was to volunteer for additional duties.

Lawrence Weaver, Assistant Superintendent, Construction (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: Six years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

The question of what being a veteran means to me brought a flurry of emotions. Pride, to be able to stand up and defend this great country, which I grew up loving as part of  a family full of veterans. Sadness, as it makes me reflect upon the comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending this great country. Uncertainty, in thinking did I do enough when I was there? I feel humbled to have had the opportunity to serve next to so many Marines who volunteered on their own accord to protect this great nation. Being a veteran, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help protect those freedoms like so many others did before me.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally? 

Being in the Marines affected me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I learned that you have the power to overcome adversity no matter how big or how small the obstacle. Everyone plays a role in success no matter the scope of their job. Perseverance is possible in any situation. The unofficial motto of the Marine Corps, Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, has served its “family” well and has given its “brothers and sisters” the tools to succeed. Stay calm under pressure and you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, and be clear of mind to understand what is going on and how to correct it. Learn from one another as everyone is an expert in something. Respect is earned, not demanded.

Jacob Tune, Facility Operator I (Texas)

Military branch: United States Army

Rank: E-1

Years served: Two and a half years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I did a 12-month tour at 348th Quartermaster Co., Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 1994–1995.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I acquired the ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle.

Roger Tupps, Regional Supervisor (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years served: 20 years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have served my country.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I believe the military really helps with being able to deal with different situations that arise. It also teaches healthy work ethic.

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Aqua and Villanova University teams return to Central America for water improvement projects

 

Volunteers from Aqua and Villanova University’s Engineering Service Learning Program students and faculty returned to Nicaragua and Panama last week, continuing their work to provide engineering resources and water infrastructure expertise for key water improvement projects in the two countries.

The group returned to Waslala, Nicaragua and Panama’s Wacuco region to provide hands-on water quality expertise and foundational support to improve water infrastructure. This partnership is part of Aqua’s “Ripple Effect,” the company’s continued commitment to making a positive impact on water, the environment and in communities. The last time the group traveled together was in August 2016.

Several  areas comprise the Ripple Effect including volunteering, Aqua’s Charitable Trust,  and knowledge sharing, according to Kimberly Joyce, vice president of regulatory, government and external affairs.

“Our partnership with Villanova University allows our employees to volunteer their time and expertise to help shape future engineers, while making a real difference for communities that need clean running water,” Joyce said.

Aqua Pennsylvania’s Jeff Bickel and Aqua Illinois’ Colton Janes went to assist VESL in Nicaragua to celebrate the culmination of last year’s capital project and assist in troubleshooting a non-functioning water well located near a Waslala school.

 

Janes was excited to work with Villanova students and provide his expertise.

“I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with Villanova students and taking on a mentor role,” said Janes prior to departure. “I think it’s going to be great to bounce ideas off of the students and find a solution together. Anytime we are able to give the essential resource of water to someone who has to work for it, or go through a hardship to maintain it, is a great opportunity for us – especially when we can help lead students looking to make a difference, as well.”

The goal of the Panama project is to provide guidance to students on  designing a water treatment solution for the existing system, which services 800 people and is expanding to add a school with 125 students. The team evaluated the system demand, water quality and yield of a newly installed shallow well. The end-state will be a solution that integrates the well into the existing system and provides safe water to the systems existing residents and to the new school.

“These projects help Aqua employees lend their knowledge, immerse themselves in a new culture and make a positive impact in the world,” Joyce said. “

You can click here to read the story about Aqua’s 2016 trip.

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Animal Hydration is a Priority at the Philadelphia Zoo

 

This is a guest blog by the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, keeping animals cool and hydrated is an important part of caring for the 1,300 animals that call America’s first zoo home.

Depending on the animal, there are a variety of ways to keep the residents at the Zoo chill in the warm summer months, including mud wallows, misters, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), access to air conditioned indoor areas and, of course, lots of water. Each species may prefer or need something different, and zookeepers work to provide what is best for the animal they care for.

For Tony, our southern white rhinoceros, mud wallows in his exhibit seem to work best. Keepers excavate a large area and fill it up with fresh water and watch Tony roll around and frolic in the mud. Besides the fun and the ability to cool down, the mud bath offers a variety of benefits to Tony, including providing a natural UV buffer to protect his skin and defense against pesky insects.

Mammals like Amur tigers, snow leopards and red pandas always have access to their indoor areas if they want to go inside to hang out in air conditioning. Hippos, tigers, polar bears, otters and more have large swimming pools and area water misters if they want to take a quick dip to cool off. Of course, every animal at the Zoo has continuous access to fresh drinking water. 

Additionally, keepers provide frozen and delectable ice treats as another creative way to keep the animals cool and hydrated. Many animal residents are treated to refreshments like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, or other snacks that have been frozen in ice.

Icy delicacies like fishsicles are a favorite for our giant river otters and polar bear. Frozen fish like smelt and trout are not only a vital part of our otter’s diet, but they also act as a refreshing treat and are always a welcome snack!

No matter the species, the well-being of every animal at the Zoo is the number one priority. As America’s first zoo, we offer well-established animal care programs and work with dedicated teams to ensure the best care for all of the wildlife living within our historic gates.

On your next Zoo visit, keep an eye out for our animal residents and the unique ways they keep cool and hydrated!

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