February 18, 2014

Candy Pacifiers For Baby Showers

Candy pacifiers make cute baby shower favors, decorations and even food since they are edible. They are very inexpensive to make...another plus. 

When I asked the co-grandmother of "our" new baby due in April what I could do long-distance to assist with a baby shower she was having, I was assigned to make life saver pacifiers. I had seen them at baby showers (they were always a hit) but I had no idea how to
 make them.  I googled. 

The main ingredients are life savers and jelly beans. 

The "glue" to stick them together varies. 
One tutorial suggested frosting. 

Do NOT use frosting... it is not strong enough to hold the 
pieces together. Believe me.  Another tutorial used royal icing.
I don't know why but my mind glazes over with the thought
of making royal icing.  I don't think you can buy it in a can.

I have used candy melts in the past to "glue" food pieces 
together so I decided to try it for this project...it worked!

Candy melts are readily available in craft stores.  They are not
expensive...maybe $3 per bag. It does a LOT of pacifiers. 

The life savers vary AND the jelly beans vary.
The life savers that you get in a roll are smaller than the life
 savers that you get individually wrapped. Jelly Belly jelly beans are smaller than the jelly beans that you get in a bag....things to think about. 

Initially, I wanted all pink jelly beans since "we" are having a girl!  I went to a candy store in the mall so I could get all one color of jelly belly candy.  They were all out of pink jelly bellys but they did have a neutral color (grapefruit flavor) that was a pretty good second choice for the pacifiers. 

Here is a good tip: ten candy melts in a sandwich bag put in 
the microwave for 60 seconds gives you a good supply of
"glue" to start putting your pacifiers together.  

At the end of melting the candy wafers, squish them up in
the plastic sandwich bag towards one corner and cut a
teeny tiny end off of the corner...now you have a piping bag. 

The first "batch" that I made, I piped a line of melted candy
wafer across the embossed "Life Saver" side of the candy
and stuck another life saver vertically on top of it. 

The individually wrapped life saver candies are easier to find
and larger (but a pain to unwrap each one).  
The only place I found the life savers in a roll was at 
Dollar Tree...they are smaller but cheaper. 

After the melted candy wafer "glue" had dried for about
30 minutes, it was sturdy enough to move on to adding the 
jelly bean "nipple" to the pacifier. 

Make a new "batch" of melted candy wafers in the sandwich 
bag.  Pipe a glob of  melted candy in the life saver hole.

Put a jelly bean (or jelly belly) onto the glob immediately.

At first I was holding the "pacifier" upright for about a  minute to let the melted candy set up long enough  to hold the jelly bean upright before placing it gently down  and continue to harden. That was taking WAAAAY too  long if I was going to be making a bunch of these. 

I remembered some beans that I had used for decoration at Thanksgiving that could be used to hold up the pacifiers while
they "set up".   These beans are henceforth only for decor (or
for being a useful second set of hands to hold stuff up). 

You could also use rice or sugar to serve the same purpose
(or if you still have kids at home, maybe use them to hold
the pacifier about a minute till the melted candy sets up slightly.)

On some of those jelly bean "nipples" it was difficult to make them stand up straight or to center them because  the candy "glue" was filling up the hole.  

So for the next "batch" of pacifiers I tried putting the nipple (jelly bean) on first then adding the handle. 

Pile a circle around the center of a life safer then add the 
jelly bean nipple.

After the nipple had time to set up well (about 30 minutes),
 the handle of the pacifier was added...

...with more melted candy "glue". "A little dab'll do ya".

This time the beans held the pacifiers jelly bean side down
so the handle could dry/set up straight. 
After trying both ways, I recommend the "jelly bean first" method.

A couple of times my sandwich-bag-turned-piping-bag popped at the seam and made a little pile of melted candy wafers. 
 From these incidents I learned that you can just dip the life saver or jelly bean in the melted candy instead of piping it on. You just have to work quicker before the air-exposed melted candy hardens.

If the melted candy in the sandwich bag gets hard before it is used up, you can put it back in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds to remelt it. I used a new sandwich bag for each 10 candy wafers I melted. 

Here are a bunch of pacifiers made with jelly bellys...

Here are some pacifiers made with multi-color jelly bellys
that came from a bag at Dollar Tree.

If you want larger nipples on the pacifiers you can
use regular jelly beans.  They are cheaper than jelly bellys.

Here are pacifiers with regular jelly beans...

I was making these pacifiers assembly-line style and forgot to keep count of how many life savers I needed to finish pacifiers I had started.  Ooops! None of the stores close to my house had the rolls of Life Savers which I had been using mostly.  They are smaller than the bagged ones. 

These already-started pacifiers with a small life saver top...

...got a large (close to my house) life saver bottom. 

I call them the "hybrids".  To hide the difference in size
I used these pacifiers on top of cupcakes.  

I thought the icing might hide the size difference.

The life saver held up in the icing much better than I thought it would (i.e. it did not "melt" the life saver). It would probably be better to add the pacifier close to the time of the shower to be safe.

  Also, if you can, avoid adding the pacifier before it has to travel in a car to  the shower. The pacifier makes the cupcake top heavy. 

The hostess at the baby shower my pacifiers are going to is going to use some of the pacifiers to tie onto bottles of pink nail polish for a baby shower favor.  Cute idea, huh?

Another way to use these pacifiers as a baby shower
favor is to package a few together in a bag.  

Since the pacifiers are edible, you can put them in
 a bowl on the food table at the shower too. 

They even look fun just scattered on the baby shower
 food table like confetti.  If you want to make the candy
pacifier fit the gender of the baby, you can add a ribbon.

Hey, I just had an idea...these candy pacifiers with ribbons
 would be cute at a "gender reveal" party too!  

However you decide to use these candy pacifiers 
at a baby shower or gender reveal, they will be a hit!

February 14, 2014

How To Submerge Flowers

Want to do something special with your Valentine flowers?
How about submerging them in a vases of water.
It is an unusual and eye-catching look that is fun for your
home or for a party or wedding reception d├ęcor.
 If you already have vases it is an inexpensive look also. 

It makes your bouquet of Valentine flowers have a bigger
visual impact than just putting them all together in one vase
in the traditional way.

Here are a couple of bunches of flowers that I used to try
out some new ways to submerge flowers.

I experimented with submerging flowers a couple of years
ago with this blog post but wanted to try again to find an
easier and prettier way to get the flowers to stay underwater.

This time around I tried making attractive "sinkers" for the
flowers using mainly clear glass vase filler "gems",
 metal washers and wire.

The glass gems can be found easily in the floral section
 of craft stores and even at Dollar Tree stores.  The washers
are in the screw and nail section of hardware stores.

More weight than you think is required to keep the flowers
submerged under the water. I bunched glass gems together
for one way to try to accomplish this...strength in numbers.

Although I tried different types of glue to cluster the
glass gems...

...the clear silicone turned out to be the best adhesive
for this project. First, I glued two gems together on top of
each other. 

They look like a little clear hamburger bun.

After the two glass gems dried about an hour, three glass gem "hamburgers" were joined together on the sides
with the silicone...

...try to leave a hole in the center if you can. 
It helps to have a center hole when you are adding
 wire for the flowers and more gem clusters.

If you have too much silicone and want to "neaten it up"
you can clean off the excess with a skewer.

I tried making a mega cluster of gems but it was harder
to manage all of those gems at one time.

If more than one cluster of three "hamburgers" is needed
(and usually it is) just wire more together.

Plan on letting the silicone set up for 24 hours before using
the sinkers in the vases of water.

After the silicone adhesive has set up and is holding
the six-gem-bundle together you can run the wire
through (the hole) and around the gem bundle(s).

Leave plenty of wire on each end to wrap around 
the flower stem.  Try to "catch" a leaf or base of the
 flower in the wire wrapping to hold the flower down. 

To get an idea of how many gem bundles you will need
per flower, fill a vase with water.

Try a flower wrapped with wire and weighted by
the sinkers in the vase.

If the flower is not submerged enough, pull it out of the
vase and add another gem bundle with wire.

You can also add more water to the vase.

The clear glass gem sinkers look almost like bubbles under
the water and don't distract from the flower. They are easy
to reuse as they go with any color scheme. 

Just like life, there are pros and cons to most things.
If you got long stemmed flowers for Valentine's Day,
you may need to cut off some length to submerge them
(unless you have really tall vases!)

I used a ruler to help me know how much of the
stem I needed to cut off to have the flower head
be underwater.  I like the look of at least one leaf left
on the stem but you can decide if you want more or none. 

While you are experimenting with the flowers and
sinkers you might want to have a towel ready to 
lay a wet flower on to protect your surface.

The photo below has a mini rainbow across the towel from
the water in the vase refracting the afternoon sunlight.

You get so many pretty and unique views of the flowers
when they are underwater in the vases. 

Another option to use for a weight is a metal washer.
You can wrap the wire around the washer, then the flower.
Usually one washer is not enough weight to hold down
 the flower...you can add more washers (the largest
ones I could find are about 40 cents each).

A drawback to the washers is that they are not attractive.
The clear gems do not hide the washers.

 There are solid color glass gems available that do cover the washer.

After you find how many washers it takes to hold the flower
submerged, you can go ahead and put the wired down flower
in the vase, cover the washers with solid gems...

...and then fill the vase with water.  Sometimes this way of
adding the water to the vase results in pretty trapped air
bubbles on the flower, the stem and the leaves. 

Depending on the look you want, if you don't mind the
more rustic look of rocks, you can weight the flower with
one washer...
This photo shows the washers with the wires attached before adding one washer to each flower.

...put the flower(s) in the vase...

...add well-washed river stones to the vase...

... then stick your hand in the vase and push the washers 
underneath the river stones.  The river stones have
 enough weight that they hold the washer down. 

Bagged river stones are available in the floral sections
of craft stores also if you don't have a natural source. 

I used this trio of roses in front of a framed Christmas angel 
that has been re-vamped as a cupid for Valentine's Day.

Another way to use washers as sinkers (but not have to buy
so many) is to use florist clay to stick the washer to the 
bottom of the vase before adding water.

I had never noticed the green wrapped brick in the floral
section of the craft store until I was looking for it for this 
project.  It was only $2. Pinch off a piece of florist clay.

Roll it around in your hands to make it pliable.  Stick small
rolls of the clay to the bottom of a washer that already has
a flower wired onto it.  Push the washer onto the bottom of 
the dry vase with firm pressure.
This submerged arrangement is using five roses.  Two roses are wired  onto some washers.

Add washed river stones (or solid colored glass gems)
 to the bottom of the vase to hide the washers.
 Add water to the vase.
As you add more water the flowers will begin to float
and then eventually be submerged. 

Here is the submerged five-rose arrangement in the center...

The oval shaped vases used the clear-glass-gem-sinker method.
The smaller the vase, the more you have to cut 
the stem of the flower to have it submerged.

If you want, the whole flower does not have to be
under water.  Sometimes it looks pretty to have the tops
of the flowers slightly out of the water.

You can also use smaller flowers bunched together.
Go ahead and wire the flowers together in a small bouquet.
Leave enough wire on the end to be able to add a
sinker to the bottom of the bouquet.

You can also use waterproof items as sinkers.
Wrap and twist a length of wire around an object.
Here I used a shell. Wire your flower onto the object.

 Place a coil of the green floral clay
on the bottom of the object and push it firmly onto 
the bottom of a dry vase.

The green floral clay might show.  If that is distracting, you
can add other objects to hide the clay.

The shell/rose submerged arrangement was used in the display
cabinet in the dining room near the larger vases.

Usually the doors are closed but here is a peek with the
doors open so you can see some of the smaller vignettes.

In some of the cabinet groupings I used roses in a more
traditional way.  Votive candle holders acted as mini vases 
to hold real roses and greenery along with faux flowers. 

While the roses were used in the dining room, 
the white Fugi mums were made into (mostly) 
submerged arrangements in the living room. 

Because the mums did not have high leaves to catch the wire
on, they were wrapped with the bent wire being worked between
the petals from the top of the flower and then twisted down 
the stem and then twisted onto the clear glass gem sinkers. 

The submerged flowers are just so interesting from all angles
because of the way the water bends the light coming through
the vases.  It also magnifies the flowers. 

Another way I tried to hide the washer/sinker with the mums
is to put larger almost pyramid glass gems on the washer
with the silicone adhesive. Wait 24 hours before submerging.

Although the gems did not hide the washer completely
it looked pretty good when it got in the water.
The silver of the washer was not very noticeable.

One of the BIG bonuses of submerging your flowers is that
they last longer.  I was amazed by this the first time I tried 
submerged flowers.  I guess all the water preserves the flower.

But eventually, decay has its way and the flowers and
 leaves start to deteriorate and make the water cloudy. 
You can change out the water (like we did first with the oval
vase in the sunlight on the right). Your flowers will last
several more days with clean water infusion. 

The five rose arrangement was too heavy to even pick up
with all the water and rocks, etc.  Tom Kat devised a siphon
out of thick drinking straws to drain a lot of the yucky water
out so we could then take it to the sink to dump out.

Clean any yucky water lines, etc. before adding new water.

The glass gem sinker arrangements were easy to change 
out the water...pull the flower/sinker combo out, 
dump water, clean vase, add new water, re-sink flower. 

The ones with washers were pretty much the same but
the washers had to be re-hidden under rocks or gems.

The washers secured to the bottom of the vases with
the green floral clay stayed in place for the water change.
They even took a little effort to get the floral clay to 
"let loose" when the flowers were completely gone and
the submerged flowers arrangements were being dismantled.

Bottom line: the glass gem sinkers take 24 hours to set up but
they are the easiest to use and re-use; the washers can give 
you instant gratification as they no adhesive to worry about
 but the probably need to be hidden under gems or rocks.  

How ever you decide to enjoy your flowers, 
have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

© Miss Kopy Kat. Design by FCD.