Sunday, October 25, 2009


SugarPlum and I made firebugs Thursday.  Last year, I dipped pinecones in wax to serve the same purpose.  Firebugs use less wax and take up considerably less space near the woodstove.  I just don't have very many dead candles lying about right now, and space is an issue in this little house on the prairie, so the fires will be kindled with bugs this year.

If you need some firebugs, grab that former peach can from under the sink — the one in which you toss dead birthday candles and remnants of votive candles — and set it in a double boiler over low heat.  Put water not only in the bottom of the double boiler, but also in the top.  Surrounding the can with hot water will speed the melting, and there can never be too much water near melting wax, for wax is highly flammable.  But we'll get back to that in a moment.  Be glad for leftover wickbits in your melting wax, because firebugs thrive on stray wickbits.

Cut pieces of twine or cotton string about 5" long.  Your goal will be to encircle your 1" newspaper cylinder, tie, knot, and have some dangling twine tails.  If you have a plum to help you with this, she or he may be ruthless with those big scissors and warn, "Watch it, Nana!  I don't wanna cut you!" and you'll heartily agree with that sentiment, so be ready to drop the stretched twine at any moment, lest you lose a digit to SugarPlum Scissorhands.

Get some newspapers and lay out a stack of 6 to 8 sheets.  Roll that stack as tightly as you can, so you end up with a firm, skinny newspaper stick.  Have your helper hang onto that stick while you begin tying twine about 1½" from one end and approximately 3" apart down the length of the whole thing.  You can slide your twine ties around a little bit when you get to the other end, so they'll all be equidistant from one-another.  You're going to be cutting your newspaper stick midway between the twine ties, but this isn't microscopic surgery or anything, and you're just going to set fire to the little buggers, so don't be using a ruler.  Just eyeball it.  And you may want 4" or 5" firebugs; adjust accordingly.

Now it's time to slice-up that newspaper stick.  If no one volunteers to go to the man room in the barn to get the jigsaw, you can use your new electric knife you bought in the spring, but it'll burn up the motor, and you'll have to throw it in the wastebasket, so I recommend you send someone to fetch the saw.  [Is it growing ever clearer why CarolineNOT rarely publishes tutorials on her blog?]  Cut that thing into pieces, and I can't tell you how many pieces there will be, because that eyeballing thing never works out the same twice.

Assuming your wax is melted, it's time to dip the bugs.  Drag a chair to the range for your plum to stand in, and when she or he asks why there's water in the pan, explain that it helps melt the wax, and wax is highly flammable; then explain what highly flammable means.  Go over this a couple of times, because flammable is a 3-syllable word not in everyday use by 4-year-olds.  Be thorough.  Don't be so thorough that when you tell your plum to pick up a bug by its twine and lower it into the can of wax, she'll get a stricken look on her face and say, "I don't want to.  You can do it."  If that happens, though, don't lose heart.  Drop one bug into the wax and let it sit there for 5 to 7 seconds; remove it with an old pair of tongs and set it on the inverted donut box (mmmm, donuts ♥) to cool.  When your plum sees that you didn't spontaneously combust, she or he will say, "Okay, I'll do it now, Nana."

When all your bugs are dipped and cool enough to touch, take some photos of your plum dangling one of the creepy little things, so you can post them on your blog.

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  ~Psalms 139:17

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