Monday, June 27, 2011

Pantry capers for the tea tippler

These tea tins should look familiar to you:  I've posted most of the pictures on the tins on my Flickr pages.

Finished tea tins
  I'm a tea addict AND a tea tin addict.  I simply can't resist great packaging, like this one from Republic of Tea:

There is nothing like a message from the Minister of Tea to convince me I need yet another tin.  Over the years I have accumulated quite a few empty tins (Please don't let me show up on the next episode of Hoarders!)  This summer I was inspired to make them over with  my own drawings and photos.  Here's how I did it.  First, remove the paper label.  This will leave some very sticky residue and I removed it with Goo Gone, though I have also used cooking oil and peanut butter, both of which take longer and require more elbow grease.

Part of the lid sits inside the top of the tin and is made of plastic to give a good seal.  Wrap it with Press and Seal, being careful not to put it on the dark painted area:
Wad up the extra Press and Seal, making a little bundle:
Spray paint the lids and cans white.  Oops, wash them in the dishwasher first - hand washing was not enough as you can see from the bubbled up paint I got on my first go-round:
Now for the fun!  Scan and print art work or photos onto "waterslide decal paper".  I used "inkjet clear" since my printer is an inkjet.  I got mine at the local big box office store, but if that won't work for you , you can get it on Amazon .
Print the art work or photos onto the paper and let the ink dry for an hour or so.  Then spray them with Crystal Clear Acrylic per the decal directions.  You'll find it in craft stores with the Krylon spray paint cans and at hardware stores.  Let the sheets dry.  Cut out the part you want to put on a tin.  I cut closely around the edges of the images at first, but then changed to just cutting a rectangle.  The clear part hardly shows on the tins.
Put the decal you've cut out into a bowl of water, with the paper backing attached.  In about 1 or two minutes you will be able to slip the backing paper off.  Put the image on your tin and use a wet dishcloth to smooth the image down, starting each stroke from the middle of the image and working your way toward the edge.  If you decide it's crooked, you can lift it up and re-place it.   Voila! Now you can take a turn for the obsessive if you can use chalkboard paint to paint a circle on the lid and then use washable chalkboard markers to label the tins, but I just put P-Touch labels on mine since  I didn't like the look of the black chalkboard paint I had on hand.  Yes, I know it comes in other colors, but I still wear my new shoes out of the store like a grade-schooler, if you know what I mean.  Instant gratification is hard to resist.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milkweed Season

I find wildflowers in the woods and in the new wild part of the local park while walking my dog. When I observe a wildflower, I make basic notes on site and take reference photos, while holding my Airedale, Ozzie, in check and trying to avoid the ticks and mosquitos.  I return to my computer to upload photos and refer to my collection of books and the internet to identify the flowers.  This is what my initial notes look like:
At this stage, I usually find I have missed observing some key point of information, so I re-check the plant on my next trip, using a different color of ink each trip.  Sometimes I end up with 4 or 5 different colors!  This one was fairly simple because I had identified it before.  Finally, I do a pen and ink wash like this:

This, like many milkweeds, has sticky white "Elmer's Glue" type sap and is poisonous throughout.  Most animals have the good sense not to eat it, though I have found instances on the internet of cattle or sheep eating it and becoming very sick or even dying.  
Monarch butterflies get the benefit of all that poison:  This is a host plant for monarchs and the poison has been detected in the bodies of both the butterfly and the larvae, which they consume when they eat the plant parts.  The poison doesn't affect the butterfly, but it doesn't agree with  butterfly predators, who soon learn to "Leave the Monarchs alone!  they'll make you sick!"