Story last updated at 7/1/2009 - 11:57 am
Sunshine. That elusive skin-bronzing, warmth-giving stuff, tries to peek it's head out at least once a year for a very special day. Thinking back through my childhood summers, I recall vivid memories of bright parades in shorts, sunny beaches in bikinis and watermelon dribbling down my chin. Either my mind is playing tricks on me, or magically once a year the sun would muster up the courage to tell the clouds off, so we could celebrate one fantastic holiday, the Fourth of July
As Southeasterners we deal with a lot of muck and mud through the year, so rain or shine, when Independence Day rolls around, we take time to party. We celebrate our country through family, community, and of course (you guessed it) craft.
Crafting is integral to any Fourth of July celebration, whether it be in the kitchen, on the beach or rolling down the road. So, let's take a stroll down memory lane (my memory lane, that is) and see if we can't mine our past to get crafty in the future.
Number 1 on my list of Fourth traditions was always the parade. The big floats were full of eye-candy and then some of them even threw candy! My favorite custom was to take all of the taffy I scrounged up and then sculpt it together into a mini-man (which subsequently got run over, whoops!). You or your little ones can carry on this tradition with less sticky results by using fondant. Decorators use this sugar-based cake topping to create smooth cake surfaces and mold crafty cake scenes. Make your own patriotic cake as a family with a parade, fireworks or beach theme. Check your local craft store for pre-made fondant or find a recipe online to make your own. I hear marshmallow fondant is the tastiest.
Fireworks were always a big hit in Juneau, especially because the story goes that we have the first in the nation (popping off on the third at midnight). The one caveat is that we can't buy our own! So, making a little fireworks fun using diet cola and Mentos is a fun way to start the night! Create a rocket out of a toilet roll and some craft paper, then decorate it in 4th of July fashion with red, white, and blue. Grab your Mentos (mint only or it won't work) and drop it in a 2L bottle of cola (make sure it's diet). Place the rocket on top and watch the soda fly as it jets your rocket to the sky. Just make sure it's okay for everything around you to get soaked in pop, because it will.
Sandcastle building comes next on my list of fun events. I once won first place in the "Strange Lizard" category for a lumpy mass I made with a tail. I will always treasure that title, but these days I'd like to walk away from a beach-filled day with something more to show than bug bites. So while at the beach this year, try digging in and making a sand candle. Scoop out a shape for your candle in the sand and poke three legs for it to stand. Heat wax over a campfire (while roasting your lunchtime dog) and pour into the sand mold. Add citronella oil (for those pesky mosquitoes) and pop in the wick as it cools. You'll be having a bug free evening by candlelight in no time.
These are just a few of the millions of crafty adventures to be held this sunny season, so don't worry. If you can't get to them all on the fourth you'll probably have a few more chances to enjoy the sun and get crafty.
Tanna Peters is a crafter and designer from wonderful, rainy Southeast Alaska. View her latest creations at suiteliving.blogspot.com and her shared crafting sitecraftaddicts.blogspot.com. Send local craft inquiries and info to firstname.lastname@example.org.