Mossy Madness! Our DIY Guide to the Ultimate Marimo Aquarium

It’s February, and, for a lot of us, there isn’t much green to go around. While we still have to wait a few more months for vibrant greens outside to bloom, we have a solution for your mid-winter viridescent cravings.

Last year, around this time, we taught you about DIY terrariums. This year we have something even more unique in store. Marimo moss balls have a cultural significance in countries in the Northern Hemisphere, most notably in Scotland, Iceland, Estonia and Japan. The term “marimo” originates from Japan, combining the prefix “mari” (meaning “ball”) and the suffix “mo” (meaning “water plant”) to give you, quite literally, “water plant ball.”

While this water plant ball is often referred to as a moss ball, it is actually made of algae and grows naturally in ponds and lakes in many northern countries. The balls are now domesticated for consumer use, and they are a great way to fight off winter blues and brighten up your home.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you set up your own marimo aquarium:

What you’ll need:

  • Clear bowl or container of any size
  • Water
  • Pebbles, rocks, sea glass or decorative items of your choosing
  • Additional aquarium decorations (optional)
  • Marimo (which you can buy on Amazon, Ebay or from individual merchants)

What to do:

  1. Clean your bowl and container and place it on your work area.
  2. Take your choice of assorted gravel and spread evenly on the bottom of the container.
  3. Place your marimo into the container and fill with cool (70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) water.
  4. Add your decorations, and voilà—your marimo aquarium is complete!

Tips to keep your marimo healthy:

  • If you use tap water to fill up your marimo’s tank, be careful of the chlorine content, as a high level of chlorine could make your marimo sick.
  • Marimo aren’t used to sunlight, so keep them away from the window to avoid burning them.
  • Marimo need their water to be changed every few weeks, so be sure to give them the fresh water they need.

Remember to have fun with your marimo! You can put them in containers of all sizes, from jars that are the size of a necklace, like the above photo, to the size of a standard goldfish bowl. It’s up to you to personalize your marimo’s home.

Let us know how your aquarium turns out! Tag us on Facebook or Twitter with pictures of your very own DIY marimo habitat. 

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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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Make a Memorable Menorah with DIY Hanukkah Candles

Hanukkah is a time to be surrounded by your friends and family, and what better way to appreciate those loved ones than by working together on a fun project to spread the holiday joy?

These floating wick DIY Hanukkah Candles look beautiful and add a twist to your typical menorah or festive candle display. You can’t go wrong with this simple way to get creative and have fun.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • Blue food coloring
  • 8 small glass cups
  • Floating wicks
  • Spoon

What To Do:

  1. Place all eight cups on a menorah stand or a festive tray of your choosing.
  2. Place a few drops of blue food coloring into the water in a separate dish and stir until the color is even throughout the water. (Note: For extra flair, you can separate your water into the cups first and then add different shades of blue to each cup.
  3. Fill each cup ¾ of the way full with the tinted water.)
  4. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to each cup.
  5. Carefully place one floating wick in each cup without getting the wick wet.
  6. Your display is finished and ready to be lit!

In only six easy steps, you now have a unique candle display to use for Hanukkah celebrations or to use throughout the entire holiday season.  

We hope working together on this DIY candle display is just one of many ways you and your loved ones get to spend time together over the holidays.

Our entire Aqua family sends you and yours our warmest wishes for a happy and healthy Hanukkah. As always, don’t forget to stay tuned for more fun and easy ways to celebrate the holidays using Earth’s most essential resource—water!

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5 Haunted House Decorations You Didn’t Know Were Made with Water

Haunted houses are always a fan-favorite Halloween pastime, and if you’ve ever been inside one, you know that they are full of intricate decorations and special effects.

We can’t help but appreciate all the art and craftsmanship that goes into creating these spooky attractions, especially when we know that many of the special effects that make haunted houses so terrifying are created with—you guessed it—water.

Read on to see our five favorite water-filled haunted house effects (and to learn how they work).

Fake Blood

While you may be thinking this spooky classic is nothing more than face paint or ketchup, it’s actually a water solution. One of the best ways to make fake blood is to use water, cornstarch, corn syrup, onion flakes and red food coloring.

Fog

The fog you see at haunted houses or in scary movies is actually made with dry ice. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, so when it changes states, it actually turns directly into a gas. All that’s needed is a large bucket or cauldron about a fourth of the way filled with hot, hot water. Once dry ice is deposited into the water, voila: you’ll start to see a thick, spooky fog. (Remember: Never handle dry ice with bare hands as it can damage your skin due to its extremely low temperatures.)

Witches Brew

Witches brew is essential for any haunted house. While the solution can be made with a number of odd ingredients, water brings it all together. Getting the perfect icky green witches brew is as simple as boiling up a pot of water, adding a drop or two of dish soap and pouring in some food coloring. Of course, you can always add some candy eyeballs or gummy worms to make the bubbly brew extra spooky.

Specimen Jars

Specimen jars are among the creepiest of haunted house decorations: they combine both odd little creatures and greenish liquids you’d imagine smell awful. In reality, though, specimen jars are just filled with water, a couple of drops of food coloring and small toy animals or doll parts.

Plus, specimen jars can become even creepier by turning them into a sensory experience. Adding foods like cold spaghetti and peeled grapes to a jar and asking haunted house visitors to close their eyes and stick their hands inside is sure to produce some shrieks.

Slime

 

Slime is a perfect haunted house decoration: It’s easy to make, fun to play with and slippery as can be. Though it may feel like it comes from the bottom of a snail or a big fish, slime is actually made with a simple mixture containing water. The mixture creates a medium between solid and liquid that makes for some great ghost sludge or monster ooze. The best part is that the slime can easily be cleaned up with warm water, too.

As you’re preparing for Halloween, read up on Halloween safety to get the most out of the big night of trick-or-treating, and if you want to make some treats of your own to share with friends and family, make sure to check out our recipe for DIY salt water taffy.

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DIY Salt Water Taffy: The Perfect Halloween Candy

 

Halloween is right around the corner, and with all the costumes, decorations and sweet treats, it’s the perfect season for DIY projects. Instead of your usual store-bought candy, why not try making tasty Halloween treats right in your own home?

 

This easy recipe for DIY salt water taffy is a great example of one of the many ways in which water can be utilized for fun, and it’s the perfect way to kick off fall festivities.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Medium-sized saucepan
  • Small baking dish
  • Candy thermometer
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Waxed paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter (and extra to butter your pan and hands)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon glycerin
  • food coloring and flavoring
  • Sprinkles (optional)




What to Do:

  1. Butter your small baking dish and set it aside for later. Then stir together sugar and cornstarch in the medium sauce pan. As you're stirring, slowly add in the corn syrup, butter, water, salt and glycerin.
  2. Place the mixture over medium-high heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture boils, stop stirring, insert the candy thermometer and wait until the mixture reaches 254 degrees F.
  3. Once the temperature is 254 degrees F, you may remove the mixture from heat and stir in your food coloring and flavoring. The color you use will not alter the flavor or texture of your taffy. Note: Color will fade when the pulling process begins.                                                                
  4. Now you can grab your buttered baking dish from step one and pour the mixture right into the dish. (Make sure you applied a generous amount of butter so the taffy doesn’t stick to the pan.)
  5. Allow the taffy to cool. Once the taffy is sufficiently cooled, generously apply butter to your hands and begin to pull the taffy. Do this by pulling up the taffy into both hands, then pulling it apart and back together until the taffy is firm enough to sustain its shape. For a visual demonstration of this process, head here.                               
  6. Now butter your scissors thoroughly (be careful not to cut your hands). Stretch the taffy into a long rope-like shape and use your buttered scissors to cut the taffy at 1 inch intervals.
  7. Wrap your taffy in small wax paper squares and store in an airtight container.happy-halloween-964786_1920.jpg

Now that you’ve made your taffy, it will last you approximately two months. You can keep it around the house as a tasty treat or share with family, friends or even coworkers.

Whether you’re indoors handing out candy or going door-to-door trick-or-treating, it’s important to stay safe on Halloween. Don’t forget to check back here to see what other fun and inventive activities you and your family can enjoy this season.

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