The locksmith eyed this birdfeeder and mentioned it might attract more bears than birds...oops.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pirate Treasure on the Beach for Kids!

Oh how I miss having young kids so I can buy arts and crafts at Michaels (using the Sunday paper coupon of course!) and make neato fun things! One of my favorite summer projects, when a trip to the beach is forthcoming, is to make a treasure map for buried treasure. The kids (and me) are beside themselves with glee as soon as a bottle is seen floating in the ocean. Here's how I arrange this covert pirate ploy:

Buy a tall, brown bottle that will hold a rolled up paper. That means it needs to be over 9 inches tall. The first time I did this, I had to buy a tall bottle of Schlitz at the corner gas station. I could tell the cashier was thinking, 'A big bottle of Schlitz? She looks more like the wine cooler type' as she wrapped it in a brown paper bag.

Side note - why is alcohol always hidden in brown paper bags? My husband said when he was growing up, folks he knew who did the local garbage said they could always tell who was baptist by the alcohol bottles in the trash wrapped up in paper bags. I mean if you're gonna drink, just go ahead and do it where God and everybody can see you. Don't go hiding it in brown paper bags like we don't know what's in there anyway.

Okay, so you've got your bottle. ( I got my current bottle at the local brewery but beware! There are many distractions and I almost came away with a kit to brew my own honey liquor.)

Get a silver or gold paint pen and draw your best skull and crossbones. And don't forget a nice tight cork!

Now, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and wet down a family size tea bag. Rub the surface area of a long sheet of paper, if you have it. The long sheets are better as you'll see in a couple of steps. The wet tea will stain the paper and give it a nice antique look.

Now put the tea bag in a cup and have yourself a nice cuppa tea. Oh wait...that sounds kind of gross with the bag rubbed all over stuff and in your hands. Never mind, scratch that. Put the bag in a cup and give your husband a nice cuppa tea.

Place the sheet on a pan and bake it for approximately five minutes. It will be crisp and slightly yellow.
Now here's where you have to be very careful. You'll want to burn the outer edges of the paper so the treasure map looks like it survived the huge fire in Port au Prince, Haiti in 1784. If you have an electric stove, it's much easier and safer. Just heat up a burner and carefully hold the edges near the coils. They'll heat up and slightly burn. Have a fire-putter-outer cloth nearby.

If you don't have an electric stove, take a box of matches outside, pull back your hair and carefully light the edges. They'll burn for a second, then snuff it out. Do this around the whole paper. The size of the paper will shrink due to a few unfortunate incidents so you'll be glad you used the 8 X 14 size paper. Be prepared to Stop, Drop and Roll if necessary.

Now take your parchment and tightly roll it around a thin wooden spoon handle. You'll want it small so the string and knot will all fit down the neck of the bottle.

Snugly knot the paper in two places.

This next step is where I discovered there is an apparent learning curve. I didn't tie the rolled parchment first, but dropped it down into the bottle where it promptly unrolled and filled the bottle, never to be extracted again. So use the string and drop it down into the bottle, leaving one longer end of string so you can easily pull it out later.
Once you get to the beach, survey the lay of the land and using a black marker, make a map of landmarks using piles of seaweed, shells in the shape of an X, ten steps here, twenty steps there, include a chant of 'Yo HO HO and a bottle of Rum!', have them walking hither and yon, but make sure the map ends up right where you have discreetly buried your awesome Hobby Lobby treasure chest (purchased using the Sunday paper coupon of course), and filled with gold coins, pirate eye patches, rubber spiders, quarters, nickels, dimes, pearls and gemstones and fun toys
Put the map back in the bottle and place the cork TIGHT. Wait until everyone is out on the beach, make sure a camera ready, and toss the bottle in a wave just as the kids aren't looking and let the fun begin!

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