Monthly Archive for January, 2012

Paper Chromatography: A Tutorial

Paper What-a-what-graphy?

A scientific explanation of Paper Chromatography, as defined by good ol’ Wiki, can be found by clicking here.  But, it’s basically watching the pigments in a marker (or other ink) spread across a paper dipped in solution.

This is an experiment I learned about years ago, and it’s so fun and easy to do.  I’ve wanted to do this with Claire for a while now, but I never remember.  This morning, she reminded me, so we got out our tools.

1) Cut strips out of paper towels.

2) Draw a line on the paper towel strip with the marker. (One color per strip.)  This example shows black, but we did six colors at once. NOTE: Be sure to have a piece of scratch paper underneath the paper towel when you color the lines. Also, color both sides of the line (flip the strip over and color the line from the back, too) for the best results.

3) Dip your paper towel strip into a glass of water. Be careful NOT to submerge the line.

As the water “climbs” up the paper towel, the color separation starts almost instantaneously depending on the marker or ink you’re testing.

This photo was taken about 15 seconds after dipping.

4) Leave the paper towel strips in the water long enough for the colors to spread nicely. Here, you can see that we’ve done a bunch of colors at once.

5) That’s it! When the color has stopped spreading, hang them to dry.

All of them are really cool, but black is always shocking and beautiful to behold.

An Unexpected Surprise in the Reflection of her Eyes

I like to change the photo on the background of my phone. I do it a lot. I play with favorite pictures and put artistic scenes on there, or I choose pretty views that make me smile. Hawaii and Cozumel are go-to favorites right now, with Santa Fe and San Francisco not far behind.

Last night, I was looking through my pictures and found one I took of Claire in Cozumel, which is one of my favorites:

I love the color of her eyes in this photo, so I decided to play around with it and see if I could make it into an interesting background photo on my phone.  I zoomed in, and I was shocked to discover something that I’d previously missed!

Not only had I captured her beautiful smile, freckles, and sun-kissed locks, I’d inadvertently captured the view of the ocean and coastal buildings in her eyes.

Eye Sea The View!


I see the view, and I love it!

Breaking a Board

Claire’s week was wrapped up by doing all her Karate moves in front of an audience, breaking a board, and getting a medal.

Needless to say, this was a great week.

In the shot above, you can see that she’s just broken the board and the instructor’s hands have come together.

What a cool experience!

Yes, Claire, you can do anything you put your mind to.


The New Bench

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bench in the Entryway downstairs?” we said to each other when we moved into this house over 10 years ago.

“Yeah, that would be awesome!” we both agreed.

…but then continued to just line the shoes and boots up against the wall and used a small wooden step stool in the corner as a seat.  I mean, who has time for such projects when you have an entire house to renovate.

Well, it’s no secret that we’re pretty much done with the major projects around here…so look what we finally completed!

The Craftsman Extraordinaire decided to use some of the mahogany he’d purchased for a different project (long, yet common story around these parts…), and he created an awesome hand-crafted built-in bench, complete with shoe and boot storage underneath.  (I think we’re going to get baskets or containers to fit on either end. He may or may not have used the dimensions of some IKEA ones we’ve been eyeing.)

See the rubber stone-like mats?  I got the glamorous job of cutting those to fit.

In sticking with the theme of our entire house, nothing about this project was square. The walls, the corners, the mats: all NOT square.

But we made it work, and I love it!


The Magical Sunsets of Cozumel

As you can tell by the Header Changes we made here at The Casual Perfectionist, we’re a big fan of playing with the sun:

Claire holding the sun

My absolute favorite time of day in Cozumel is sunset. For a few moments, we gathered on the beach, bathed in magical light and awe-inspired silence.

Here we are, Sun(set) Bathers gathered for the best show on the island:

Every night provided a spectacular show, each a little different from the night before, but still the same:  Absolutely breath-taking.  (Feel free to click on the photos in this post to see them in more detail.)

One night (about a millisecond after the above photo was taken), we saw the mythical green flash as the sun was swallowed by the sea.

We were so overcome by the magic of the moment that we all gasped out loud, and then without prompting, everyone on the beach gave that particular sunset a standing ovation.

It was the least we could do for witnessing such a magical moment.


Punta Sur, Cozumel: Part 2

Cozumel!  Our trip was in November, but the memories linger.  We had such a great time!  One of our favorite adventures in Cozumel was exploring the park at Punta Sur, on the southern tip of the island.

We’ve already told you about exploring the lighthouse (twice), and it’s time to talk about the rest of the park!

What is that cheesy grin for? Well, it was so I wouldn’t yell (anymore) at the driver. It’s hard to be angry when someone grabs the camera and says, “Say cheese, Momma!”

You see, the roads leading from one end of the park (and back) leave a lot to be desired. This being said, they are a hundred times BETTER than I expected them to be! There were potholes the size of our Tiida. Daddy was expertly dodging them, and everything was going fine…until he forgot to consider the passenger side of the car.

“iESPEJO!” I yelled, because I was so engrossed in the Spanish language at that point. “MIRROR!” I yelled again.  But, it was too late.

Of course, I had my window open and got BLASTED by leaves and white crusty stuff (which we later realized was dried “mud” from the roads) when he miscalculated and smacked the mirror right into a shrub on the side of the road.

In his defense, I’m not sure he could have done anything differently.  Still, we were all so overcome by the Vacation Mode, that we had a good laugh.  After I got all the leaves out of my hair, of course.

(No, the Tiida was not harmed in the making of this documentary.)

If you’d like to see the following photos in more detail, click on them!

After we made it to where they do the Boat Tours of the Lagoon, we parked the car and then figured out the Boat Tour Times. We were just early enough to take a little stroll through the jungle and check out the boat docked at the end.

We had enough time to kill, so we went back to the beach and had a quick snack before strolling back down to the dock for our tour.

This part of Cozumel is known for its mangroves and crocodiles. Can you see this one hiding above?  In honor of the language of our location, we referred to them as “cocodrilos,” because that’s what they are. We were hoping they didn’t refer to us as “lunch.”

Here’s another shot to show the Cocodrilo hiding.

Some of them weren’t hiding at all. These two came right out to our boat to check us out. (Oh, goody!)

This area is also home to tons of nesting birds. The tour guides let us borrow this handy guide.

I know the placement of this picture leads you to believe that we went snorkeling in the lagoon. No, we did NOT.

(Here you can see how the lagoon is divided from the ocean at Punta Sur.)

We made it safely back to the beach and then had lunch. After that, we went snorkeling in the ocean. Claire and I make a great team!

Snorkeling is tons of fun but hard work. We decided to take a siesta in the beach hammocks while Daddy continued his snorkeling adventure without us.

He took some nice photos of the view from that direction as well.  (You can see the beach hammocks from this vantage point.)

We spent nearly the whole day at Punta Sur.  We were completely relaxed and utterly exhausted when we were done.  (But not exhausted enough to forego climbing the lighthouse one more time on the way back to the entrance.)  The guides speak just enough English to make the Boat Tour informative and entertaining, whether you speak Spanish or not.  The park has a great snorkeling area, and the beach hammocks are a nice touch.

Over all, we highly recommend Punta Sur!

Just watch out for the potholes.


Snowcapped Majesties

Our view yesterday while on a Letterboxing Adventure! We found #168! (Click the photo to learn more about Letterboxing!)


Colorful Colorado Sunset

It was like magic.  We’d just finished a class at the gym.  Claire took one look out the door and said, “Mom. You NEED to get a picture of this!”

Everyone got out their phones, and one person even had a “real” camera.  We stood still, whispering, mesmerized, trying to capture the vibrancy of the colors with the click of a button.

The above photo hasn’t been altered in any way.
It was even more magnificent in person.

It’s nights like this when there’s no doubt we live in Colorful Colorado.

What on Earth have I written about now?

Click on the photo to find out...


One of my gifts this holiday season was a Nook!  If you don’t know, a Nook is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amaz0n’s Kindle, both of which are eReaders for reading electronic versions of books.  I’m sure the Kindle is great, too, but for reasons we won’t get into, we’d rather support Barnes & Noble than Amaz0n, plus, my hubby wants to get the Nook Tablet eventually, and the sharing capabilities led us in this direction.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like it.  I mean, I look at screens all day.  My reading time is a break for my eyes from the electronic stimulus.

My hubby assured me that he’d heard great things about the “screen” and the “ink” used and that I’d be impressed.  He even said there’s be no glare, so I could read outside if I wanted.

Also, the Nook came for free on Eva, and due to her screen size and the speed at which I read, I was too distracted by all the scrolling than I was with following the story.  Would I like the way the Nook felt when I “turned pages” with a swipe of my finger?

Bottom line?  I love it.  I’m carrying around 1431 pages of a trilogy I’ve been dying to finish, and it’s smaller than a paperback!  The screen looks just like a paperback page to me.  It doesn’t seem like I’m looking at a “screen” at all.  In fact, I was so engrossed one evening that I accidentally turned my little Nook completely over while trying to turn to the next page.  Ooops!

Despite that little blip, “turning pages” comes naturally to me on this device, and I love it!

When I’m done with this trilogy, I can download my next adventure directly to my Nook with a click of a button.

Then again, time will tell if this is really a good thing or not.  😉