All posts by Georgia Ball

About Georgia Ball

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney's Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She's written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

Purple Crystal Growing Kit

I’ve often looked longingly at grow-your-own-crystals kits, but never bought one. It must have been that bad experience I had with a rock tumbler that told me I would probably be very disappointed.

One of these sat in my garage for thirteen years

Then my daughter developed an obsession with rocks. Every time a Scholastic book order form was offering a set of rocks, that’s what she wanted. When we would go to a gift shop, she’d dig through that big pile of tumbled rocks and plop a few into a bag. We own two volcano sets.

This Christmas, I thought it was time to grow some crystals. I picked up the Crystal Growing Kit: Grow Stunning Purple Crystals (Includes Real Amethyst)! by Discover with Dr. Cool, which was a big hit when she pulled off the paper. The kit came with chemicals for growing our crystals, a paperback book about crystals, a real piece of amethyst, and a cardboard backdrop for displaying the crystals.

I knew there was a problem as soon as I read the instructions and saw we were supposed to grow them in a glass–something. It didn’t specify what. I used one of my mason jars, and realized that was a mistake right away, because the glass was blue. The chemical solution was a dark soup, and there was no seeing anything grow through blue glass.

That meant we had to go on faith that something would be in there at the end of a ten days. The instructions were adamant that we keep the glass jar still, because crystals only grow in a stable environment. The dark soup sat in on my kitchen counter and I tried to avoid touching it for over a week.

The sides of the jar crystallized, but until we dug around in the soup, we didn’t know for sure we’d grown anything. We drained it, and found a small layer of crystals at the bottom that fell apart when we tried to remove them.

The results of our experiment were… not quite as advertised. Perhaps the crystals on the box are what you see if you also have a microscope? That said, my daughter was not disappointed. As far as she was concerned, small or large, we had crystals, and we’d grown them ourselves. The largest crystals have definition, if you look close. She has her crystal shards on display in the provided cardboard backdrop and couldn’t be prouder of them.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

Books Out From Friends

There are two new books out today by friends and colleagues! The first is My So-Called Superpowers by Heather Nuhfer.

Heather wrote a popular string of My Little Pony comics and after she moved to Seattle, I invited her to join me in a signing and we’ve been friends ever since. Children’s comics have had their ups and downs, but children love to read, so Heather brought her talents to the book world. My So-Called Superpowers is her debut novel and the first of a three-part story, so more is coming!

If you pick up a copy, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or GoodReads! Reviews help successful authors become more successful and write more books.

I’ve known Amy Mebberson since we were signed on to Strawberry Shortcake, and we’ve been collaborators on many projects since. Amy is currently doing a lot of work in toy design, but she’s also illustrating picture books for Disney Publishing. Her latest book is out today, Who’s That Dwarf?

It never hurts to leave a review and remind Disney that Amy should always, ALWAYS be kept busy.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

A Day Visit to Grouse Mountain

My husband is obsessed with snow. He checks weather forecasts daily, and laments our decision to live on the temperate American west coast. He wishes our jobs allowed us to live in Minnesota where we could shovel snow off our driveway for months every year. When a work holiday came around during a winter when conditions were frosty, but never quite right for snow, we decided to take a day trip to a ski resort. My husband researched his best options, and landed on Grouse Mountain.

Entrance to Grouse Mountain Resort

We didn’t know what to expect when we got there, and were initially confused by the cars we saw parked along the road leading up to the resort area. We kept driving to see where we’d end up; that was smart, because we would have ended up taking a pointless walk uphill. The road to Grouse Mountain is a heavily populated residential area, and the cars we saw belonged to home owners, not adventurers. Along the way we passed the Capilano Suspension Bridge, still presenting a popular Christmas light show called Canyon Lights, which runs until January 28. The light show help up traffic on our way back down later that night, but traffic was light going up, and there was available paid parking at the entrance to Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain admission prices

If we’d done our research, we would have gotten an earlier start, because admission prices are high, and available resort activities justify a full day. We paid just over $100 Canadian for the privilege of seeing it, as we were in no way equipped to ski or snowboard. While we were waiting, we saw plenty of people who were.

Taking the skyride up and down the mountain is one of the highlights of visiting Grouse Mountain. The lift is smooth, and only sways when is goes over the supporting poles. The view is impressive in spite of the condensation on the plastic windows, and may be at its best during the summer months. We were reminded to keep our tickets, as the attendant does need to see them on our return trip. It is possible to get up the mountain without the skyride via a hiking trail called “The Grind,” and I hear it lives up to its name.

Once off the lift, Grouse Mountain turns into a winter wonderland:

Complete with sleigh rides

We were there to sled, so we rented two canvas sleds for $5 each and found the sledding hill.

The fence keeps you from dying

Two steep tracks of densely-packed snow allowed for side-by-side racing, but mostly wipeouts. The snow was slick and hard to maneuver in throughout the resort area, making it difficult for sledders to get back up after they’d skidded down. My husband and daughter collided with each other and the resulting sore muscles curbed their enthusiasm for more.

Popular snowman-building spot

We made snowmen, then moved to the frozen pond where my daughter tried out ice skating. The skate rental was $5 for as much time as she wanted on the ice, which wasn’t much. There were plenty of helpful trainers available, but she learned fast that ice skating is harder than it looks.

We picked up snacks and coffee at the Grouse Grind Coffee Bar and rested. The lounge was crowded and not very clean. We sat next to a family who had brought Ramen in tupperware and I was very curious to see how they were going to warm it up without a stove or microwave. The father used a hot water spigot on the coffee machine, so now you know how it’s done. The best part of our time in the lounge was watching the sun set over the city, attracting many photographers to the outdoor balcony.

Vancouver lights from Grouse Mountain

We plan to go back another year, but early enough in the day to make snowshoeing more practical. There are also activities available when it’s not snowing, but it’s hard to see how they would be worth the price of admission. An American crossing the border for Grouse Mountain is an American looking for snow.

 

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter