Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Real Ice Lantern Season Begins in Minneapolis

I know I am not normal. If I were like most of the people in Minneapolis, I would be thrilled at the mild temperatures. But come November, I have ice lanterns on the brain. These warm days are like torture. When will it get cold?!

Well, my apologies to everyone else, but Mother Nature has heard of my pain and has decided to help out. The temperatures in the Minneapolis area will be dipping below freezing for the next few days! We will even have the bonus of the sun hiding behind the clouds--how sweet of him to stay away for just a few days so we can put out a crop of ice lanterns in the backyard to "cook".

I say, "cook" because there is a certain similarity to putting a roast in the oven. Given a certain temp and the size of the roast, it needs to be "cooked" for a certain amount of time. The same is true for ice lanterns.

In the kits that we sell, the recipe I offer begins with a standard of 20 degrees and 12-16 hours as the initial freezing time. (This is based on the small bases that make Globe Ice Lanterns that are about the size of a soccer ball.) If it is colder or smaller than the standard, freeze it for less time. If it is warmer or bigger, freeze it longer.

It is a good idea to remember that learning to create globe ice lanterns is like learning a new craft. As a beginning knitter will often need to rip out a few stitches, if an ice lantern is not thick enough the first time you try it, let it freeze a little longer next time. Likewise, if it froze solid, check it a little earlier next time. Because this is not a set mold with a set size, each ice lantern will be different. And with most things that require a little bit of effort, the pay off is usually worth it!

So, now that the weather is somewhat colder, I find my walks through hardware and grocery stores take a little longer. The shape of a plastic container will stop me in my tracks as I ponder how it might look given a second life as an ice lantern. Sometimes I buy a product, just to see how it freezes. Of course, I use or consume the contents, and then based on the success of the test, determine how much of that product I could really use. I mean, how many jumbo packs of Twizzlers from Costco is really a good idea to have around the house.

Last night we put out about 50 ice globes ranging in sizes from 9 lbs of water (soccer ball-sized) to 50 lbs (beachball-sized). Another 20 at the 22 lbs (Basketball-sized) went out this morning. Given that we are due for several days of non-sunny, below freezing temps, we should be able to harvest a nice crop of Globe Ice Lanterns in the next few days.


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