Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This image of pollen from the oriental lily, Lilium aratum, was taken with an electron microscope.
The natural fluorescence of live mouse skin cells, imaged non-invasively with a laser scanning microscope by JonathanPalero on Flickr.
Fluorescence of polytene chromosomes from the salivary gland of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Polytene chromosomes form when DNA is copied but the cell doesn't divide. Image credit: Elissa Lei/NIH, found here on Flickr.
Who would have thought that mosquitos were so pretty up close? Image by Adelaide Microscopy and found here on Flickr.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
As a newbie to the craft fair scene, I couldn't afford to buy fancy displays for my table. So I headed over to my local plastics store and poked through their scrap pieces until I found the parts to make my own. Fantastic plastic place, indeed! Everything I bought was pre-cut, and they gave me a sample of acrylic polish for free, because they're nice like that.
How to make an acrylic T-style display stand
For each stand you'll need:
- sturdy rectangular base piece at least 6" by 6"
- 1" diameter acrylic rod (8" long for bracelet stand, 12" to 16" for necklace stand)
- half-round acrylic piece, 12" long
- 2 end caps
- acrylic cement
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- a ruler
- a marker or scribe
Step 1: Assemble your supplies in a well-ventilated room, or outdoors. The acrylic cement is a bit noxious.
Step 2: Find the center of the large acrylic rectangle and mark with a scribe or marker. If you're using clear acrylic, the scribe is best -- marker will show through. The size of the base piece isn't that important. It just has to be wide enough to make the whole thing stable.
Step 3: Apply a small bit of acrylic cement to one end of the round acrylic rod and press it down onto the mark you made on the base piece. Acrylic cement is easiest to apply with a small syringe, like those used for insulin injections. I didn't have any handy, so I just got a dab on the end of a toothpick. Once the center rod is in place, you can apply a little more cement to the edge of the seam. It'll wick in between the pieces and fill any remaining gaps. Apply light pressure and hold the pieces together for a minute or two.
Step 4: Find and mark the middle of the half-round acrylic rod.
Step 5: Cement the half-round rod to the top of the round rod, forming the arms of your stand. Let the whole thing cure for a couple of hours.
Step 6: Stick something on the end of the arms to keep your jewelry from sliding off. I used a few European coins that I squirreled away after a trip I made a decade ago. Use cement if your end caps are acrylic; otherwise use hot glue.
Step 7 (optional): Polish the acrylic to remove any small scuffs or scratches.
Your stand is now ready to use! The cement bonds will be strongest after they sit for a day or so.
Acrylic cement: $5.30 for 4 ounces
12" frosted round acrylic rod: $5.10 (clear is cheaper)
12" half-round clear acrylic rod: $2.35
8" by 6" by 1/4" clear acrylic base: $3.20
end caps: reused = free
Total spent to make a large stand: $10.65 for plastic, $5.30 for a can of cement that I will use on other projects, too.
Other tutorials to check out:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
[Update 1/22: Deadline extended to 11:59 pm on Friday 1/23 since my blog was unavailable for a while yesterday.]
Monday, January 19, 2009
Infusing vodka is very easy. You can use pretty much any combination of fruit, herbs, spices, vegetables or candy, although some ingredients require several weeks to produce the best flavor. But here’s a quick trick: use tea. You have to steep it longer than you would to make your afternoon cuppa, but an hour or two should give you some deliciously flavorful booze. I made up a pint this evening and let it sit while I prepared some fruit-infused versions. In no time at all I had a tasty drink to go with my dinner. Because nothing complements a cheese quesadilla like rooibos peach vodka on the rocks, right?
The other flavors currently infusing include blueberry vanilla, blood orange, and cucumber. I'll post recipes for them once they're done. In the meantime, try the tea!
- 1 pint middle-shelf vodka (I used Svedka)
- 1 tablespoon loose tea
- an airtight glass jar
- a secondary glass container
- something to strain with (cheesecloth, coffee filters, or a tea strainer will all work)
Simply pitch the tea in with the vodka in a clean glass jar. Seal and give it a good shake. If you are using an herbal tea, shake occasionally and do a taste test after 30 minutes. I used rooibos peach bloom tea from Teavana and let it sit for a total of 90 minutes. If you are using black tea, test every 10 minutes. For green tea, test compulsively -- things can turn bitter after just a few minutes -- but try to let some make it past the testing phase, okay?
Once the flavor is to your liking, just strain out the loose tea (here’s where the secondary container comes in handy). Store in the airtight glass container in the fridge, freezer or even at room temperature, but keep it out of the sun.
What better way to launch this blog than with a post about a baby blanket? New beginnings all around.
In crocheting, I’m an advanced beginner. “Beginner” in that it takes me ten minutes to remember how to get started; “advanced” in that I like variety in the stitches and colors I use. I make a scarf or two when the weather turns cold, the occasional hat, and blankets for friends’ babies.
I’m still suffering from overexposure to the color pink during my childhood, so there was no way I was going to make a blanket for baby Alyssa in traditional girly colors. But I don’t like the bland pastel shades marketed as baby blanket yarn, either. Babies need color! I settled on some bright, froggy greens and got to work using the granny squares pattern printed in the label of the Caron yarn as a guide. (I used Caron Simply Soft and Red Heart Soft Yarn. Both are 100% acrylic, super soft, reasonably priced and easy to find.)
I made 24 squares of sage and dark green, alternating the inside and outside colors. I edged each square with the bright green and then connected the squares together with a whipstitch of bright green (easier than it sounds).
Here's the seam:
I had planned to do a shell stitch around the assembled blanket to give it a scalloped edge but it looked better with a simple dark green single crochet border so I stuck with that.
One thing I learned from this project: 24 squares with 3 colors apiece + 8 connecting seams + 1 border, all with 2 yarn ends left dangling per color = far, far too many loose ends that must be woven back into the body of the blanket! That’ll teach me to go crazy with the color changes.