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Gift Lab: Connor’s Kit for Kids

June 3, 2011

The weather’s warming up, Memorial Day has passed and soon school will be out for summer! Customer Service representative Seneca and her son, Staccato, are excited to get in some quality mother-son time this summer. Their first project? Conner’s Kit for Kids—Crystal Explosion. Seneca hopes the activity proves educational. Will Staccato find the kit entertaining as well?

1.) Product name: Connor’s Kit for Kids–Crystal Explosion.

2.) Background Research:

My 9-year-old son and I are always looking for new and fun ways to spend some quality time when at home. I want him to have fun. However, learning and exploring new things is a top priority. Lucky for me, my son loves science! We recently completed a Science Fair project for school, yet still had the science bug and wanted to do more…for fun! Enter Connor’s Kits for Kids. We decided to try the Crystal Explosion first.

3.) Hypothesis:
This hands-on experiment is kid friendly and one of the easiest and most fun kits I have ever seen. This will encourage him to have confidence in his own ability as well as show him how fun learning (and science) can be outside of school!

4.) Experiment:
We took all of the items out of the packaging to ensure that we had everything and set them out on the table. The following items are included:
3 large plastic cups
1 small plastic cup
2 pieces of string
2 wooden stirrers
1 plastic bag
1 bag of crystalizer mix

We had all of our items in front of us and I told my son to feel free to grab the directions and follow along as I watched. He was hesitant at first, worrying about creating a mess or not getting the experiment right. The instructions are very easy to follow and any mess can be easily cleaned. How do I know this? Well, we did indeed have a mishap and spilled some of the crystalizer mix on the table and wood floors in our house. Easy clean up! I was also impressed by how simple each step was and my son had no trouble at all following along.

1. He poured 2 1/2 cups of the crystalizer mix into one of the larger cups first. (This is where the spilling accident occurred).

2. He then filled the small cup with hot water twice, pouring both into the larger cup with the crystalizer mix. (The directions note that the temperature of the water from the tap should be at least 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Ours is a bit hotter, so I provided my son with the water in a measuring cup so it could cool a bit before he used it. Don’t fret! The temperature of most people’s tap water is indeed 108 degrees Fahrenheit. )

3. He stirred the water and crystalizer mix with one of the wooden stirrers for two minutes until much of the crystalizer mix was dissolved. (Timing is very important for this experiment so we had a timer handy.)

4. We then let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

5.  Once the 5 minutes was up, he stirred for another two minutes with the wooden stirrer. (Don’t be concerned if there’s still a lot of the un-dissolved crystalizer mix left in the cup. As long as you used the correct temperature water and stirred for the noted time, you’re fine!)

6. He got one more of the large sized cups and poured the mix that he made into it, leaving all the un-dissolved crystalizer mix behind. (At this point we worried about making sure that none of the un-dissolved mix got into the new cup. However, the directions noted not to be concerned if a small amount snuck into the new cup.)

7. It was finally time to put this new cup in our refrigerator. We found a good place on the bottom shelf where it would not be disturbed.

Note: There are two other experiments that you can do with this kit. We tried a second, which has the same directions as above except that the final cup mixture was left in a windowsill where it would receive a lot of sunlight instead of putting it into the refrigerator. The third experiment we have not yet done. It involves placing one of the formed crystals into a fresh batch of the water/crystalizer mix. This is done by attaching it to the string and dangling it from one of the wooden stirrers into the mix and letting it sit.

What we did next:
1. We removed the cup from the refrigerator after 5 days. (The instructions say to remove it after 24 hours or more. We did not see significant results after 24 hours and my son decided he wanted it to sit longer.)
2. He then used his fingers to gently hold the crystals in place as he poured the liquid out. (He poured it into the drain, which is safe as per the directions.)
3. He also removed the cup from the windowsill, repeating the same careful draining process.

Note: The crystals are VERY fragile so be careful! After they dry out, we placed them in the plastic bag that was provided for safekeeping and travel to show his friends!

5.) Results:
My son and I were both pleasantly surprised by how easy these experiments were, and look forward to trying the third! The experiment took only about 15 minutes to do (not including the time in the refrigerator and windowsill of course!) and we enjoyed the control we had over how big to grow the crystals. We found that the crystals in the window formed faster; however, the ones in the refrigerator were larger. The kit also includes a great FAQ section, which has information about the crystalizer mix as well as how the crystals are formed. This experiment is a great way for your child to feel independent and learn in a fun way! I hope to check out the other kits with him soon and watch my little scientist go to work!

What Staccato thought:
“I felt this experiment was very fun! I liked all of the steps it took to make the crystals. It was also fun to do the experiment with my Mom because we never did an experiment like this together before. It was interesting to see how the water helped to turn the mix into crystals and to watch them grow every day. I would not mind doing an experiment like this again.”

Gift Guides

Cool Cocktails

May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend may not be the official start of summer, but in our minds it rings in barbecue season, flip flop weather and many patio parties with ice-cold cocktails to come!

While the holiday weekend is just a couple of workdays away,  it isn’t too late to get everything you need for a festive summer. There’s still time to enter the UncommonGoods and Fresh Home Ideas Ultimate BBQ Giveaway for your chance to win a bundle of great BBQ goods. The entry deadline is June 19; so in the meantime why not cool off with a refreshing concoction? These recipes are sure to make your next gathering a summer sensation, and we’ve picked out the perfect accessories to make mixing them a breeze.

The Drink?
Looking for a grown-up twist on a summer favorite? Instead of lemonade, try a Lemon Drop Martini.

You’ll love:

Graffiti Cocktail Shaker

Graffiti Cocktail Shaker

Shake up your next party with this clever cocktail shaker. The cute spray-can design will get a laugh out of your guests, and when filled with liquid and ice it even sounds like the real thing when you give it a shake.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Summer Treats

May 23, 2011

Customer Service representative Meya made some colorful fruit and veggie mango pops with the new Quick Pop Maker, and a recipe she found in Perfect Pops. But will her teething daughter find them as tasty as they are healthy?

1) Product Name: Quick Pop Maker & Perfect Pops

2) Background Research:

Summer’s coming and as a parent to a teething infant, I know the best thing to help sooth them is something cold for them to crush on. So my goal was to find an ice pop recipe that I can make in a jiffy that my teething 8 month old could enjoy as well as the rest of the family.

3) Hypothesis:

I will no longer have to worry that I forgot to pop the teethers in the freezer when the moment hits.

4) Experiment:

My mission: Use the book to find a pop that my whole family will love and with the magic of the Quick Pop Maker create instant ice pops in a flash.

I unpacked, washed, dried and immediately stuck the quick pop maker in the freezer. Then I set out to find the perfect pop recipe. My criteria for my recipe was a pop made of fruits/vegetables, with no added sugar (natural sugars are okay) or salt. A recipe on page 60 caught my interest>: watermelon-beet juice and carrot-apple juice striped pops.

But going over the ingredients I thought, “I must have lost my mind.” Beet juice stains are no joke, and even with the small amount required (2 tbs) I wasn’t willing to risk it. I decided to omit it from the recipe. In the end I also omitted the agave nectar because I couldn’t find any that was pasteurized. I tasted the carrot and apple juice mixture and it really did need something to sweeten it up so I added some mango puree. While it succeeded in sweetening up the mix, it also really changed the color.

Here’s what I did next:

1. Remove Quick Pop Maker from the freezer. Insert sticks and pour about ¾ ounce of 1st mixture or Puree; allow layer to freeze completely.
2. Pour ½ ounce of next mixture or puree into each cavity directly on top of the 1st layer; allow layer to freeze completely.
3. Pour another layer, fill the base up to fill line in each cavity; allow layer to freeze completely.
4. Remove the pops with the Super Tool.

Pretty easy!

5) Results: From start to finish the whole process took about 20 min. I decided to juice or puree fresh fruit, so that added to my time. As did making the striped pops, because I had to wait for each layer to set.

6) Conclusion: I was surprised at Leya. She really loved these popsicles. I took this first picture thinking that I had sometime while she ate her way through the pop.

Little did I know! By the time I texted my mother a picture of Leya eating the pop, she was 2/3 done. As for her sore gums, I had a very happy baby on my hands. So much so that I decided to make her another the very next day (this time it was only an apple-carrot puree). Okay, so I guess I’m not that great at following a recipe but these pops were so good and were quick and easy to make. I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes. If you don’t think your infant can handle the pop stick or you just don’t want the mess, you can always cut a piece off and put it in a mesh feeder.

The Quick Pop Maker is $50 and comes with everything you need to make a batch of pops in just 9 minutes. Pick up a copy of Perfect Pops, $16, for some fun recipes to get you started.

Gift Guides

Our Top 10 Gifts for Mom!

April 29, 2011

Mother’s day is just a few days away, but there’s still time to get great last minute gifts that are sure to make your mom’s day!

Birth Month Flower Necklace

These birth month flower necklaces aren’t just for birthdays! Choose your mom’s birth flower or take the alternative route and go with her favorite color, her favorite flower or a month that has special meaning to her!

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Gift Guides

Happy Tax Day!

April 15, 2011

Traditionally, tax day is April 15. Fortunately for those procrastinators out there, this year the IRS is giving us an extra weekend to prepare.

Since Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday this year, the holiday is being recognized today, April 15. That means that April 15 is a holiday, and tax day cannot fall on a holiday or weekend, according to Wallet Pop.

All of this tax talk has us thinking fiscally, so we’re sharing a few of our favorite ways to carry cash, cards and coins.

Double Your Money Clip

Double Your Money Clip

So true!

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