Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Fascinated by these little worlds. An entire ecosystem encapsulated in glass. These systems can last from several months to several years if the conditions are right. Great points of focus for a desk or sill.  Educational and artistic. Less space than an aquarium and self-contained at that. You'll need a few things. You can proceed as cost conscious as you like. My only expense was the jar. Here's how...


1. Glass container with air-tight lid (any size will do, the larger it is the more stable the environment will be)
2. Pond scum (nasty but necessary)
3. Water conditioner (if necessary)
4. Shells, gravel, stones (to stabilize the PH and provide a home for necessary bacteria)
5. Aquatic plant (to convert carbon dioxide into delicious oxygen)
6. Freshwater Arthropods and/or snails (most evolved life form in this system, they will keep things nice and clean)

1.  Start by finishing off that vodka or whatever elixer inhabits that old bottle. If the label is paper use a solvent to remove glue.  Goo Gone works well.  If the label is painted on, as was mine, use a paint thinner or high concentrated alcohol to remove. I used 91% pure alcohol on this bottle and the painted label came right off. 

2.  Rinse bottle thoroughly with tab water. Do not use any soap or solvent inside the container. Any chemical residue will cause your system to crash. Once completely rinsed, set to dry in a warm or sunny place in order to encourage any remaining chemicals to evaporate out of the bottle.

Here comes the nasty bit...

3.  You're going to need some sludge. Head over to your nearest pond, creek, or bog and scoop up a nice cup-full of muck, mud, or mire. As bad as it may look and smell this pond scum is the necessary foundation of your miniature ecosystem. As you can see my sludge is not all that mucky. It contains sand, dirt, pebbles, and shells that are coated with bacteria and microorganisms necessary to maintain the system. If you look closely you'll probably even see little organisms swimming around in your cup. If you are aposed to wading into a sullen marsh, find an adventurous adolescent with a propensity toward getting dirty and an eagerness to acquire muck.

4.  Pour your acquired scum into  your container, pebbles, sand, shells and all.  You will want to have no more than three quarter of an inch of gravel at the bottom of the jar. You can add polished stones or shells for decoration as long as they're not painted and you keep some of the sand and mud from the pond (remember we need the bacteria). 

  Depending on the clarity of your pond water you may only want to fill your container one-third to half-full. You want to be able to see the life inside and cloudy water will not do. (If you do have to add water for clarity, use distilled or add a water conditioner to your tab water. I used Tetra Aqua AquaSafe but any de-chlorinator will do.)  Fill the container with clean water leaving an inch or two of air at the top.

5.  You will need to add a plant. The plant filters the water, fills it with necessary Oxygen, and as the leaves decay it provides food for the microorganisms. You may find a suitable aquatic plant at the lake or pond where you acquired the sludge. Any moss or macro-algae found growing under the water will work well and will probably already be inhabited by many forms of life. (Remember to keep it submerged. Aquatic plants melt quickly once removed from water.)

  If you can't find any suitable plants, there are a wide variety of aquatic plants available at your local aquarium store. The national chain stores will sell you one but if you go to a locally owned fish store, and you ask nice, they will probably give you a cutting of something. Java Moss (pictured right) works great for this project and they should give it to you, all you need is a pinch. Hornwort is also great and depending on the size of container you want to fill, you only need a few inches of it and should be free or very cheap at a locally owned establishment. Anacharis, Water Sprite, or Rotala could also be used and are readily available at any pet store that sells aquatic plants.


6.  Now that you have substrate, a plant, and micro-organisms, you are ready for a slightly higher life form to complete the system. These little scuds were on the plants I pulled out of my local pond.  Volcano Shrimp work best but would have to be
purchased. Any small arthropods or scuds such as: gammarus shrimp, brine shrimp, or daphnia can be kept.

These pond snails were also a welcomed addition to my ecosystem. They were hitchhikers on my plants and they will be a great clean-up crew and will happily consume any decomposing organic matter or detritus that could build up inside of the glass.

  There you are, a self- sufficient ecosystem. Remember to keep your container shut tight. Keep your Ecojar near a light source but not in direct sunlight. If you notice algae growing on the inside of the jar it may be getting too much sunlight and needs to by moved away from light source or window. If your plant begins turning brown you might not have enough light and may need to relocate it closer to a window. Your system could last several months or even a year. In any case it makes a great temporary science study, a great project for middle-schoolers, or a conversation piece with an earthy aesthetic.  

Hey everyone, I should have mentioned at the beginning that this post was written and executed by my awesomely talented husband, Andre. He is full of surprises, and will be popping in to share some goodies with you all. Stay tuned...You don't want to miss anything! :)
                                       Thanks for stopping by-
Linking up to...

Tuesday To Do Party

Today's Creative Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crock Pot Tex Mex Chicken

Ok. So....I love this recipe. Saying that it is "simple" is an understatement. It's ULTRA SIMPLE. To top it off, it's reaaaaaaalllllllyyyyyy yummy.

What you need:
crock pot
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 jar of salsa
3 frozen chicken breasts
1 block of cream cheese

What you do:
-Throw everything in the crockpot
except cream cheese.(yes, frozen chicken breasts go in the crock pot.)
-cook on high for 4 hours
-throw in the block of cream cheese for the last 15 minutes.
-when 4 hours are up, you can shred chicken easily with fork, and mix it all up.
We ate ours on on tortillas, but would be good over rice or tortilla chips or on tacos!

Linking to:

I Heart Nap Time

Saturday, February 25, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Card

This is a cute and Quick! idea for a St. Patty's Day card. Cash was excited about helping out, but Luc doesn't like to get his hands dirty. He passed on the painting with his thumb. (He used watercolors and made his own pic!) We used Cash's thumbprint to make shamrocks on the front of the card. I then used a sharpie to write out "Erin Go Braugh."
This is the inside of the card. Simple, yet sweet card all around. They are going out to the grandparents. :)

Hope you enjoying the weekend!-
Linking to:

I Heart Nap Time

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Didn't I Think of That?

My mom sent me a forward that had all these pics and this info in it. I have no idea where it came from, but I thought there were some interesting ideas here. Some I had heard before, but some were new to me. We all need more tips for the everyday problems, right? I figured I would pass on some enlightenment! :)
Overhaul your linen cupboard, store bed linen setsinside one of their own pillowcases and there willbe no more hunting through piles for a match.

Install a tension rod to hang your spray bottles.
Remove crayon masterpieces from your TV orcomputer screen with WD40.
Hull strawberries easily using a straw.
Rubbing a walnut over scratches in your furniturewill disguise dings and scrapes.
Stop cut apples browning in your child’s lunch boxby securing with a rubberband. Pump up the volume by placing your iPhone & iPodin a bowl. The concave shape amplifies the music.. Re-use a wet-wipes container to store plastic bags.
Add this item to your beach bag. Baby powdergets sand off your skin easily, who knew?!
(I see this pic is from i heart naptime.)
Attach a Velcro strip to the wall to store soft toys.
Use wire to make a space to store gift wrap rollsagainst the ceiling, rather than cluttering up the floor.
Find tiny lost items like earrings by putting astocking over the vacuum hose..Make an instant cupcake carrier by cuttingcrosses into a box lid.
For those who can’t stand the scrunching and bunching: how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet.
Forever losing your bathroom essentials? Usemagnetic strips to store bobby pins, tweezersand clippers, behind a vanity door.
Store shoes inside shower caps to stop dirtysoles rubbing on your clothes. And you can find them in just about every hotel.
A muffin pan becomes a craft caddy. Magnetshold the plastic cups down to make themtip-resistant.Bread tags make the perfect cord labels.
Bake cupcakes directly in ice-cream cones, so much more fun and easier for kids to eat.
Microwave your own popcorn in a plain brown paperbag. Much healthier and cheaper than the packet stuff.
Turn your muffin pan upside down, bake cookie-doughover the top and voila, you have cookie bowls for fruitor ice-cream.
Freeze Aloe Vera in ice-cube trays for soothingsunburn relief.
Create a window-box veggie patch using guttering.
Use egg cartons to separate and store yourChristmas decorations.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...