Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Cake

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stars1
If you have been on Pinterest I’m sure you have seen the pin showing how to bake a cake with a heart shape running through the middle. The pin is just a series of photos merged into one long photo showing the process. I was unable to find, and believe me I searched all over, but could not find written/detailed instructions on how to do this.

Here is the Heart Inside Cake Pin

So even though there was a pin I was still on my own on this one. The pictures were self explanatory so how hard could it be? Right?

Well it wasn’t difficult. It sure would have been nice to have some pointers with experience behind them. Well I’m going to share what I learned from the mistakes I made and the things I did right.

You will need:
2 cakes. Each different color. (I used box mixes. One chocolate the other strawberry)
A 9×13 pan to bake the first cake in.
A cookie cutter.
A loaf type pan to bake the final cake in.

I did not have a heart shape cookie cutter like used in the pin but I did have a pack of star shaped cookie cutters in various sizes. I choose the smallest one. That was my first and second mistake. I should have used a more simple shape, one without pointy small parts. I also should have used a bigger cutter.

star cutter

I lined my 9×13 pan with a product that is parchment paper on one side aluminum foil on the other. You could grease and flour the pan if you prefer.
Bake the cake according to directions on box. Looking back maybe I should have added an extra egg to the mix to make the cake denser.
Let cake cool, use cookie cutter to cut out the stars. I just cut out as many as possible. My dad just happen to come by as I finished cutting out the pieces and he offered to ‘dispose’ of the scrap pieces of cake I had left over. He is too kind.

the first cake
I only had a loaf pan. I knew it wasn’t going to be large enough for this project. Yet the crazy woman in me said, just do it. Here’s where I made the third mistake, well fourth if you count using to small of a loaf pan. I put a bit of batter down in bottom of pan before lining the pan with the shape pieces. Don’t do this.
My next but not last mistake was I did not cram the pan full of the star pieces. I lined them up like the pin showed but I should have packed them in tight. There were gaps. Did it occur to me that those gaps would get filled with chocolate batter causing things to go wrong? No.

in the pan
So I poured the batter in over the star pieces. Of course the batter oozed between the stars and a few stars moved around because I poured the batter in to fast. You should spoon your batter in, you will have more control.
The pan was too small so the cake overflowed some. I was prepared for this, I had placed a pan under the cake to catch any overflow. When she see the photos you will notice I did not place the catch pan in the best spot. Clean up was still easy though.

Oops, too much cake for one pan

Oops, too much cake for one pan

I turned the baked cake out of the pan to let it cool. As you look at the pictures I promise there is a star shape in there…somewhere.

So what I learned:
Simple shape cookie cutter. Skip the star shape. Don’t use the smallest cookie cutter.
Use the deepest loaf type pan you have.
Don’t pour any batter on bottom of loaf pan before placing in your cut shape pieces.
Cram the cake shapes in line so there isn’t any gaps for the batter to ooze between.
Spoon batter slowly over cake shapes so not to displace them.

There's a star in there. I promise.

There’s a star in there. I promise.

Really there is.

Really there is.

I will try again and I will perfect this. I actually have an idea of my next shape in cake, cake. It is Halloween themed. I will share it with you when I make it.
Thanks for joining my on this very Pinteresting cake adventure.

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Scrub a Dub Dub – DIY Body and Hand Scrub

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trio scene

Today I will be sharing recipes for two types of scrubs. One is a strawberry scented body scrub, for a gift, the other is a pumpkin spice hand scrub (it can also be used as a body scrub but your shower/tub will get slick). The hand scrub is for me.

My sister, we will call her D had her 30-something birthday a few weeks ago, I would tell you the exact age but she would never forgive me. Let me tell you something about my sister. She is spring/summer where I am fall/winter. When the first blooms fight their way out of the earth after winter my sister comes to life. She smiles more, there is excitement in her voice when she talks about her garden plans, and she will happily spend her days sitting out in the sun reading a good book. Me, my life is fall. When the days get shorter and there is that cool bite in the air, that is my time. Oh I still love to garden in the summer but I’m not happy out in the hot sun. I worry about bursting into flames.

For Ds birthday I decided to make her a summer scented body scrub. The recipe I used is similar to whipped coconut lotion. You just add an extra ingredient.

D has always loved strawberries. The scent and the taste. A few years ago she suddenly developed an allergy to strawberries. I don’t mean she breaks out in hives, no it’s an allergic reaction that requires a trip to the ER. She misses strawberries dearly. I went on Amazon to find some strawberry fragrance to use in her body scrub. If she can’t eat them I can at least give her strawberries in a safe way. I ended up getting a multi-pack with several summer scents.

 


 

Strawberry Body Scrub

Ingredients:

1 cup to 1 ½ cups coconut oil.

Vitamin E oil (1 tbsp) optional

Tea Tree Oil (just a few drops) optional

1 to 2 cups Brown sugar

Strawberry fragrance (12 drops or more depending on how strong you want the scent)

Bowl

Hand mixer

Fork

Container for the scrub. For a gift I use a pretty glass jar with lid, for me I just use a plastic container with a lid.

I must tell you this will be a thick body scrub. Not a runny oily one. I like the thick ones with coconut oil for the shower. Coconut oil seems to just run down the drain if the water is hot enough whereas the runny oils tend to stick to the tub making a slick mess which could result in slips and falls. This I have learned the hard way.

Instructions:

Scoop out several big spoonful’s of coconut oil.(it is a solid oil, like lard). If you don’t have a measuring cup, six or seven heaping spoonful’s should be plenty.

Add your vitamin E and tea Tree oil if you are using them.

Now with your hand mixer, whip up the coconut oil until is the consistency of a thick hand lotion. This will take several minutes.

Add your fragrance.

Mix it in by hand or mixer.

Now add you brown sugar. Use enough to make the concoction feel more like a paste instead of a lotion. Usually one to two cups. Mix it in by hand, with a fork. Fork just seems to work better than a spoon.

making scrub

Smell your wonderful scrub. If the scent isn’t strong enough now is the time to add more.

Now your are ready to put the scrub in pretty jars to give as gifts. This filled three 4 oz. jam jars and one slightly larger decorative canning jar. D got strawberry whipped coconut lotion, body and hand scrub.

sisters


 

Here is the recipe for hand scrub I use when I come in from the garden. I have dirt on my hands and a ton under my nails. This scrub does a good job of getting that stubborn dirt off my hands. I keep a small jar by the kitchen and bathroom sink. I got this recipe from Pinterest. Pumpkin Spice Scrub. On Pinterest it is called a body scrub but I like it as a hand scrub.

p s hand scrub

Pumpkin Spice Hand Scrub *

Ingredients:

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 cup of vegetable oil. Since this is just to get dirt off my hands I don’t use the more expensive oils.

Bowl for mixing.

Jars for storage.

Instructions:

Mix the dry ingredients: the two sugars and pumpkin spice together. Mix well. Try to get all the lumps out. Add oil and stir. If it is too thick add more oil until you get it to the consistency you want.

*This will make a heck of a lot of hand scrub. I halved the recipe, it was still too much. I could tell it was going to be too much before adding the oil. So I poured the dry mix in the two jars I was using then added the oil to the jars. I had quite a bit of dry mix left. I just poured the remaining dry mix into a labeled baggie to use at a later date. It was a warm breezy day when I made these scrubs. I had windows and doors open enjoying the nice weather. Sadly as I was pouring the dry mix into a baggie the wind slammed the front door shut making me jump out of my skin which resulted in half of the mix missing the bag and spilling into the floor. And on my pants leg. And down my shoe. Do you know how sticky brown sugar is? Pretty darn sticky I discovered.

Now if you are using this for gifts go with the full recipe. I don’t know how many jars it will fill up but I’m sure it will be more than plenty.

How easy was that? Once you learn the process there are so many scents you can use to customize your own scrubs.

open scrub

 

Lemon, Limes and Cookie Cakes

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lemon cookies 1

I have been in search of a good lemon cookie recipe. I still haven’t found The Lemon Cookie Recipe. The one were the cookie is not hard but not so soft it falls apart in your hand. Until I find that recipe I will share all the others I try in my search.

This one I decided to try because I just happened to have a box of lemon cake mix. The recipe was similar to a crinkle cookie. I made the two batches following the directions. Oh how I love the taste of lemon. Oh how the lemon taste in this cookie was too much. To try to tone it down the last batch I baked crinkle cookie style. They were good but still the lemon was too strong. These cookies are very soft and will fall to pieces easily.

The original recipe called for a lemon icing. I decided to go with a lime icing to try to balance the flavors. In my opinion it worked.

The husband tried the cookies, he said they were okay. He is not a lemon fan. Which was good for me. I had lemon cookies all week long. For first break at work, last break and for dessert after dinner. I was a very happy Gotha.


 

Lemon Cookies

Ingredients:

1 box lemon cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup oil

Mix ingredients by hand.

Set in freezer to harden.

Roll into 1 inch balls.

Place on greased cookie sheet

Bake at 375* for 7-8 minutes.

Cool and frost with lemon or lime frosting.

 

Lime Frosting (or lemon)

Ingredients:

4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons of water or milk (I prefer milk)

Mix until smooth. Spoon over cookies.

Some I covered heavily with frosting others much less.

IMG_5646IMG_5649

Thank you for joining me on another Pinteresting adventure. Hopefully one day I will find that perfect lemon cookie.

lemon cookies

 

A Pinch of Magic

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Bibbity Bobbity Boo

Bibbity Bobbity Boo

I have been asked, “Gotha, why is your blog titled, The Pinteresting Life of Gotha Stewart?”, well the answer is simple. When I decided to start this blog I told my husband I wanted to call it “Bitches Be Pinning”. He immediately replied, “I will divorce you if you do.”
Since I have already invested eighteen years of my life with this man and he is the one who kills the spiders that get inside the house. I decided to come up with a different blog name. My friends are all the time telling me, if the evil world had a Martha Stewart it would be you. That is the direction my mind went to find another blog title, so later that day ‘The Pinteresting Life of Gotha Stewart’ was born.

That being said, today’s post is not even about a pin I saw on Pinterest, (oh the horror). This is a pin I, myself pinned. It was just a photo of the finished project that I uploaded to Pinterest. Since several people have asked me how I made it, I decided to share the how-to.

We have this giant oak tree in out back yard, I call him the mighty oak. Yes I do talk to him. If I don’t he throws acorns on me as I try to relax and read in his shade. Mighty oak tends to lose limbs during bad thunderstorms. One day while picking up limbs after an extremely bad storm I picked up this one good size stick. The first thing that entered my mind was, Gandalf from LOTR. I turned to the husband, shouted, “You shall not pass!” then struck the earth with the bottom of the stick. The husband looked at me, shook his head and said, “to bad it’s not a broom, you could fly off.” Oh he thinks he is funny. He’s not.

The mind started working. I saw this stick transformed to a magical staff any sorcerer or sorceress would be proud of.


 

How-to Magical Staff

What you need:
An awesome stick from an acorn throwing tree. (any good size fallen limb would work)
Wood burning tool
Sandpaper
Screwdriver or something to scrape away bark
Sealant
Imagination
Gemstones (optional)
Jewelry/craft glue (if using gemstones)
Small jewelry charms (optional)
Cooking twine (for charms and gemstone)
Nail polish or marker (if using gemstones)
Sharpie
Small can of light wood stain
Eye of newt (not really)
Tongue of goat (not really)
A sarcastic husband who thinks you are incapable of using a wood burning tool (optional)

I already had all the items on hand. Except eye of newt and tongue of goat. I began working naked under the light of a full moon, not really, it was full sun and I was fully clothed. Since we just experienced a bad storm the night before I had to lay the stick in the sun to dry. This took a few days. I did almost all the work on this project outside, due to messiness and chemicals used.

After drying I used a flat head screw driver to scrape off the bark. My plan way to scrape all the bark off, cut off any lumpy bumpy places and smooth the whole thing down. I decided against that after realizing all those things were what gave the stick character. I did remove the bark and sandpaper from places where I was going to burn symbols. This took a week, mainly because I was working a lot of hours at the time and was hardly home. I must warn you, there could be tiny bugs coming out of the stick as you work. The stick at one time was a living limb that housed living things. Nope, not creepy at all.

After the scraping and sanding was complete I got down my trusty book, “The Happy Homemakers Guide to Sorcery and Pot-Luck Potion Swaps.” Not a real book but what an awesome Gotha Stewart prop that would make. I did use books and go online looking up magical symbols to use. It’s not like anyone has ever accidentally conjured up a demon that way. Right? (See Buffy, season four episode four, “Fear, Itself”. To see how things can go wrong using symbols from books. Last scene in episode is great.)
With the sharpie I drew the symbols I wanted on the stick. Using the wood burning tool I burnt those symbols into the stick. Some symbols I had to burn a few times to get them deep and dark enough to be seen. FYI this is not a project for children, unless they are enrolled in Hogwarts, even then they would still need adult supervision on this project.
Once the symbols are burnt you can now stain the staff. At this point I feel it should no longer be called a stick. I used a paper towel to apply the stain, I only stained a few places. I wanted the staff to have a used well worn look and feel.
Once you have the staff looking how you want it. Now get out your can of spray sealant and spray away. I did several coats. Let each coat dry completely before applying the next.

Now is time for gemstones. A few years ago the husband and I took a day trip to the mountains. We stopped at a roadside gem mining stand. You buy a bucket of rocks, sit at a flume with running water, use container with a mesh like bottom and proceed to find gemstones. We ended up with a huge bag of gemstones.
I played around with placing gemstones in the ‘fork’ of the staff until I found the perfect one. I then used craft glue (E-6000) to glue it in place. This stuff has a strong smell. Make sure you are outside or in a well ventilated area. I then glued a pointed stone to the tip of one of the ‘prongs’. That area was not the most secure place and the glue did not have much area to grab onto. So I applied glue the bottom end of the stone and the first inch of the stick then I wrapped cooking twine where the glue was applied. Once completely wrapped to my liking I started dabbing more glue on the outer part of the twine. Once dried I was not happy with the look of the twine, it was orange and black striped. I had this dark purple nail polish that was left in my car. The heat had thickened it up to the point I could not use it as fingernail polish. I coated the twine in it. To finish it up I tied a bundle of charms to the staff. I went overboard with the charms. I will probably take most of them off and just settle on three to leave dangling. I will also use a different color twine to tie them with, maybe a solid color.
staff close up

So there it is. The making of a magical staff. It is now ready to use as a magical prop, or to dazzle your friends at conventions or banish a demon hiding under a dwarfed mined mountain.

A little over five foot tall

A little over five foot tall

I wish I had taken photos of the whole process. As I sit here typing this the wind is picking up outside, maybe a storm is blowing in. If the Mighty Oak loses another awesome limb maybe I will make another magical staff and take pictures of the process this time.

I hope this has inspired the magical person inside you to make you own staff if so, please share your experience and photos with me.

Thanks for visiting now off you go, there’s pins out there in need of pinning!

Meatball Adventures

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cooked meatball 1

I’m trying to cut pasta out of my life. Trying is the key word. So I have been searching for recipes to try that will still give me a bit of the foods I miss. I found a recipe on Pinterest for meatball sub casserole. I am also cutting back on breads but pasta has to go completely. Pasta is an addiction for me, I cannot have a little, I cannot control myself. I have to say bye to it completely.

Meatball Sub Casserole

Ingredients:
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1-lb. pkg. fully cooked frozen meatballs, thawed
1 (28 oz.) jar pasta sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Toast bread slices
Arrange bread slices in a single layer in an 9×13 baking dish.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings.
Spread mixture over bread slices.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
Layer in the meatballs.
Spoon sauce over meatballs and cheese mixture.
Cover with remaining cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.

I did not use a whole loaf of bread, I used less than half. After toasting a few slices I tore them to good size pieces to line the bottom of casserole dish. The cream cheese I used was actually a product that is new to me, it’s half cream cheese and half Greek yogurt.
I mixed it with the mayo and seasoning. It was not an easy process spreading it over the bread. But I powered through and got it done. I assembled the rest of the casserole, threw it in my trusty oven and baked away.

uncooked

While the meatball sub casserole was baking I used that time to go through my make-up case to see if any items needed to be replaced. When I say make-up case I mean my horror/zombie make-up case. I should probably be ashamed how much horror make-up I have but the dark side of me feels no shame. One day I will show you what all I have in that case. My everyday make-up? I hardly wear any, when I do it’s lipstick and mascara. In case you are wondering, all the make-up was good only thing that I need to replenish is my liquid latex. I’m down to one bottle of blood but that should get me through my next zombie walk. That took up the 35 minute bake time. I checked the casserole the cheese had not browned any so I baked it 10 more minutes. That did the trick.

How was it? My husband loved it! He ate two plates of it! I was not a fan, mainly because I’m not a big cream cheese or mayonnaise person. Now I did love the meatball, sauce and mozzarella. Those three baked together paired with a salad is a meal I could get behind.

The pin I found on Pinterest led me to The Country Cook blog. You can find the recipe I used there. She has pictures to take you through every step if you need them.

Giving up pasta is not easy but I was able to kick my artificial sweetener addiction so I can conquer this pasta addiction…maybe.

cooked meatball

Making Lavender Oil

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Lavender steeping in oil. My Lemon Yhyme and Rosemary are in the background

Lavender steeping in oil. My Lemon Thyme and Rosemary are in the background

Last summer was the wettest summer my area had experienced in many years. Most of my plants and vegetables could not handle all the rain being dumped upon them. I lost all of my vegetables except the pumpkins, my lavender plants suffered horrendously as well.

Once I realized I was losing my lavender plants I waited on a dry day. We didn’t have many. I then harvested every bit of the lavender as I could. Once picked I wondered how was I going to preserve this smell-tastic plant.

I decided to make lavender oil. I also made rosemary and lemon thyme oil. To make the oil is easy. But it is a long process. I know how to make the oils, been doing it for several years. I decided to check out Pinterest to see if I could learn anything new about the process. What did I learn? Seems there are a whole lot of ways to make herbal oils. Some of the things I read made me go, “WTH?” so I left Pinterest deciding to go with my own way of doing it.

When I was a teen I spent some time with a family I knew. The grandmother had been raised deep in the North Carolina mountains. I must tell you her upbringing was very interesting, oh the stories she told. She shared a lot of her knowledge with me, my young short attention span mind tried to soak up as much as it could.
I have remembered a few things, some of them useful, some strange wives tales and a little bit of stuff my family did not approve of.

Two main things have been put to use many times over the years. One was how to ‘read’ cards. Yes I can tell your future with a regular deck of cards. Am I accurate? Who knows? I did it for fun in my younger years. I rarely read cards anymore but the knowledge is still there. Taking up space in my brain that more useful stuff could be occupying.

The second main thing I learned was how to make herbal/essential oils. I will share that knowledge with you now.

Sunlight is a no-no. Some Pins I read required the oil concoction to steep in sunlight. I was taught you must let it sit in a dark cool place for a few weeks because heat from the sun would destroy the essential oils in the plants. Is this 100 percent true? I don’t know I do know the woman who taught me had been doing it that way her whole life and her mother before her and her mother before her and so on.
Any oil can be used but if you are wanting to capture the scent of a plant use a light scented oil. I did go against this bit right here, only because the only oils I had on hand were olive and coconut. Coconut is a solid like lard so I used the olive oil. It was a light olive oil so the smell was not as strong as most olive oils. The olive oil scent was still pretty noticeable. But I was able to make it work. Now if you are making oils for taste/cooking nothing beats rosemary steeped in olive oil. Yummy.

The lavender oil turned out rather nice, with the olive oil having a noticeable I had to repeat the process twice. Now I must warn you homemade essential oils are not going to smell as strong as store bought essential oils. Even though the smell isn’t strong I still believe this is a good way to bring a part of your fragrant garden indoors so you can enjoy year round.


 

Lavender Essential Oil

Fresh cut lavender.
Glass canning jar with lid. If you have a tinted glass jar with a lid that is even better.
Oil (a light scented oil, like safflower or canola)
A cool dark place

Cut enough lavender to fill a glass canning jar. Rinse your lavender of any dirt. Let dry completely. I let mine dry overnight on a clean towel or a stack of paper towels.
Stuff the jar full of the clean dry lavender.
Pour in enough oil to cover lavender completely.
Screw on lid tightly.
Put jar up in a cool dark place.
Shake jar every few days for two to three weeks.
Strain.
Done.
Store the jar away from heat and sunlight.

Now since I used olive oil after my two weeks I strained the oil and you could just barely detect the scent of lavender. I did happened to have one lavender plant that was refusing to die so I still had some blooms available. So I cut those blooms, rinsed, dried them then stuffed them into the jar of my weak scented lavender oil. Again in a cool dark place shaking the jar every few days. I let it steep for thee weeks this time before I strained the plant material out. Steeping a second time did the trick. You could still smell the olive oil but the scent of lavender came through strong.

I use my lavender oil in my whip coconut lotions. As a massage oil. As a treatment on my scalp and hair. I’m down to my last little bit, I’m going to use it in a body scrub. I will share how to make that with you later this spring. Or summer since it looks like mother nature is going from winter to summer and just skipping over spring all together.

How long does it keep? Well that depends on how you store it. Trust me you will know when it goes bad, the oil will have a rancid smell. Most of my oils last several months. I have had a few go bad within a few months, but on those I did use low quality/cheap oils to begin with.

Lavender oil about to be used in whipped coconut oil lotion.

Lavender oil about to be used in whipped coconut oil lotion.

Now you can use hard to find expensive oils, that is up to you. But me, I feel if the ingredients cost more than what you can purchase the finished product for, it’s not worth it. Some projects I will go buy things I wouldn’t normally buy but most times I make use of the items I have on hand. If you have read my other posts you know sometimes making do (substituting) items doesn’t always work out. Those instances don’t bother me, I learn from them. Life is an adventure, throw out the owners manual and just do it your way. Unless you’re a surgeon than maybe it is best to stick with the rules.

Good luck on your essential/herbal oil making. If my process does not appeal to you. Hit up Pinterest, there are many different ways to make your oils.

This post is done. Now go forth and pin. Pin your heart away.


 

Why are you still here? How can you have your own Pinteresting adventure if your still here? “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”