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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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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Ask a Vet: Pet Hydration 101!

This is a guest blog by Kristin Budinich, VMD, of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

July is Pet Hydration Month, and with summer in full swing, keeping your pet hydrated in the heat and humidity is essential for keeping them healthy and preventing illness.

Just like people, your pet’s body is made up of mostly water—about 80 percent. Water is essential for every important bodily function, and without it, they wouldn’t survive. In addition to helping with food digestion and nutrient absorption, water helps our pets regulate their body temperature (which is especially important in the summer because dogs don’t sweat) and flush toxins out of the body.  

While we may scrutinize the ingredient list on a bag of food to select a high quality diet for our pet, most of us don’t give nearly enough attention to the other important part of overall nutrition: water! Our pets require adequate amounts of water each day so that their bodies can stay healthy.

How much water does your pet actually need?

As a general rule, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Activity levels and environmental factors will obviously play a role; dogs that are more active require more water, while sedentary pets in cooler environments may require less. Dogs regulate their body temperature mainly by panting, so these water losses will need to be replaced on those hot summer days.

Drink up, pup!

Since most of us are in the habit of just filling the water bowl and plopping it on the ground until it’s empty and we fill it again, how can you be sure that your pet is getting enough water?

  • Measure the amount of water that you pour into your pet’s bowl. This is easy enough, and can help you monitor intake. Remember that canned food is about 70 to 80 percent water, so pets that eat canned food may drink less than those on a dry diet.
  • Ensure that fresh water is available at all times, and that the water bowl is large enough, not tippable and cleaned regularly.
  • Cats may prefer a water fountain of continuously circulating water if they tend to enjoy drinking from the sink.
  • If your pet frequently moves throughout the house, place water sources on each floor of the home where they most often spend their time.
  • A portable water bowl should be taken on walks, or brought outside during longer play periods.
  • Ice cubes can be added to the dog’s water bowl or given as a treat. Oral electrolyte solutions or broths are available for finicky drinkers, and edible liquids can also be frozen into Kong toys for added fun and a yummy treat!

To each their own, right?

Remember that pets with illnesses such as diabetes or kidney diseases may have increased thirst compared to their healthy counterparts, but if your pet hasn’t been diagnosed with one of these things and they are constantly at the water bowl, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

How do you know if your pet is dehydrated?

Telltale signs of dehydration include sticky gums, sunken eyes or decreased activity. Check your pet’s “skin tent” for a quick assessment of hydration by gently lifting up on the skin between your animal’s shoulder blades, then watching how quickly it falls back into place. Normally, the skin should fall right back into place, but in a dehydrated animal, there is a delay because the skin is less elastic. Pets who are chronically dehydrated may have a dry, flaky hair coat that lacks luster.

Ensuring that pets are well-hydrated is important not just during Pet Hydration month, but throughout their entire lives!

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Dr. Budinich is a veterinarian at PAWS, which offers low-cost spay/neuter and basic veterinary care to pet owners and rescue organizations that cannot otherwise access or afford care. PAWS’ clinics enable struggling pet owners to keep their pets as part of their families, rather than surrendering them to shelters. Reducing the number of animals that face homelessness is part of PAWS’ overall mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every healthy and treatable pet is guaranteed a home. For more information or to adopt, foster, donate, or volunteer, please visit www.phillypaws.org.

 

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