How to crack your marbles not lose them

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One pin from Pinterest I have been wanting to try is the cracked marbles. Turns out it’s very simple and FUN! I wanted one to go in my miniature garden to use as a gazing globe.

How to lose crack your marbles.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place marbles in a pan, one with high sides. Those marbles tend to roll around.

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Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately place in a bowl of ice water.

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Here is the fun part: you can hear the water sizzle and the marbles pop. I also did the same to a few glass ‘rocks’ used for decorating. They cracked but not as much as I wanted, maybe they need higher heat or a longer bake time.

I hope to find some solid light colored marbles to try. I think they would make pretty pendants.

Cracked

Cracked

Not much cracking going on

Not much cracking going on

Garden gazing globe

Garden gazing globe

 

 

 

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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?”

Captain My Captain Morgan Coconut Rum Cake

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I was in a cake baking mood. Also in a coconut rum mood. Those who know me know I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking. I may have a mixed drink once a month sometimes not that often. Tonight was Captain Morgan coconut rum night. So we have cake baking and coconut rum. What not combine both?

Searching Pinterest I found several recipes I liked but they were so involved. I was in the mood to bake but I had just got home from work so I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen. Gotha needs to rest sometime.

So I just found a basic white cake recipe and used the rum in place of the liquid. I had a small dilemma during the mixing of the cake. I had only a small amount of rum. If I use all for the cake I wouldn’t have any to drink later. After a whole two seconds of deliberations I used half the rum along with milk in the cake. To give the cake a strong coconut taste I added two tablespoons of coconut bakery emulsion. FYI: I’m drinking the rest of the rum now. Public Service Announcement: Friends don’t let friends drink and blog.

Okay the cake is in the oven. I’m baking two 8 inch round pans plus two mini round pans. The mini rounds are a test. I’m baking Ms. K a smash cake for her first birthday, I want to see if the minis will be big enough. RESULT: nope not big enough. The mini round will make a good top layer to a small tier cake.

While the cakes are baking it’s time to toast some coconut. Here is where I give short but sweet instructions to toast coconut. That went by so quickly I had time to find some spooky pins I plan to try out soon.

Cakes are out of the oven and cooling. I planned on making the frosting from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Uh…nope not happening. I am a lightweight drinker. I had just enough to give me a tiny buzz now I’m just sleepy. So, Betty Crocker to the rescue. I just happened to have a can of white fluffy and a can of milk chocolate frosting. I mixed some coconut emulsion into the white fluffy. That went on the tiny cake. It was going to go on the big cake also but once I saw that can of milk chocolate frosting all I could think about was Almond Joy. Holy toasted coconut Batman! That was a good cake. The white frosted cake was okay but much better the next day after the emulsion had time to mingle with the frosting.

Here is the basic white cake recipe. Maybe one day I will try that frosting I planned to use.

The tiny cake photos turned out okay but once it was time to snap some shots of the chocolate coconut cake I was so tired. I snapped a few shots. I don’t think you can tell in the photos but I didn’t even frost the whole thing. Also the hubby was in such a hurry to try a piece he was standing over me with a knife. He had been waiting all day to eat cake by then his patience was wearing thin. I’m going with the theory the knife was for the cake and not me. Now if I would have taken more pictures making him wait longer who knows, that knife may have been used to get me out of the way. The hubby loves cake.

Mini Captain Morgan Coconut Rum Cake

Mini Captain Morgan Coconut Rum Cake

coconut rum cake with milk chocolate frosting

coconut rum cake with milk chocolate frosting

Another Pinteresting day in the life of Gotha Stewart ended with a belly full of cake hubby and me taking my lightweight drinking self to bed.

A Zombie Apocalypse Easter Egg

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Not a big fan of Easter. To me there is something disturbing about a bunny hiding eggs to lure kids behind bushes with the promise of candy. But I have to put away my Easter Grinchness for the kiddos.

I saw a Pin about string Easter eggs. Some just for decoration and some with treats inside for children. One Pin used a fabric stiffener on the string another used a flour/water mixture. I happened to have flour and water so I went with that Pin.

Here’s the plan.
1: Gather the supplies: flour
water
Bowl
Balloon
String (I used embroidery floss/thread)
Wrapped candy
Canning jar lid (this was not in the original pin but you will want to use this)
what it takes egg
2: Mix flour and water.
3: Cram candy into deflated balloon.
4: Blow up balloon to desired size. Go small.
5: Soak a long piece of thread in mixture.

Okay let’s take a moment. The pin looked like after soaking the thread you just start wrapping it around the balloon. Yeah…didn’t work for me. The thread just kept sliding off the balloon causing a chorus of bad language to spew forth from my mouth. So I spot a canning jar from another pin project. A light bulb moment: the lid will make a perfect stand to hold the balloon.

Revised plan:
6: Sit balloon on lid to free up both hands.
7: Take soaked string and just randomly cover balloon. I was only able to do one side at a time this way. Give the wet section a little time to dry before rotating. Remember once you pop the balloon and remove it you will have candy inside so make sure all your holes are small enough to keep the candy from falling out. You might be asking why I glooped (technical word) so much flour paste on the thread. That was the only way I could get certain parts to stay put.
8: Let it dry.
9: Wait forever to let it dry.
10: Watch Resident Evil while you wait for the string egg to dry.

The messy process

The messy process

So I’m watching one of my favorite Zombie movies while the drying process drags on. While watching I think about this past Fall when I planted a Zombie and Halloween night where I became an Umbrella Corp scientist cooking up the dreaded zombie virus. While we wait for the egg outcome I will share these two projects with you.

Planting a Zombie
While on Pinterest I stumbled upon a cute little pin. It was a little flower pot with a zombie hand planted. I said to myself, “Self, you can do this but it needs to be bigger.” I totally agreed with myself.

Here is the Pinterest zombie planter:

Zombie plant from Pinterest

Zombie plant from Pinterest

Here is mine. Yes it is true. Bigger is better.

My Zombie planter.

My Zombie planter.

Unleashing the Virus:
Every Halloween I dress as a zombie. Do my own make-up. Go to work covered it latex pieces I made with itchy blood and make-up on. So I awake at 4 a.m. to apply make-up. Wear make-up until eleven that night, sometimes even later. This Halloween I decided that was more then I wanted to commit to. So If I wasn’t going to be a zombie I was going to be a zombie creator. Off to Amazon I went, a week later my lab coat arrived followed by my Umbrella Corporation patches. A little ironing, some safety glasses and a security pass…Ta-da! I am a scientist that creates the zombie virus that wipes out mankind.

Resident Evil scientist costume

Resident Evil scientist costume

So for the moment you have been waiting for, the Pin outcome.

Getting candy out of a balloon that’s in a string egg is not a fun time. I tried to cut the balloon in half to get the candy out in doing so I managed to cut the wrapper off of one the candies. It seems flour paste was not a great choice. The string was now a dull flour coated mess. The egg is fragile, handle with care. I do not have any photos of the balloon removal process. It was late at night and all my concentration was on not breaking the damn egg. Somehow during this time I fell over the kitchen chair.
The crashing noise woke the husband, he raises his bald head off the pillow and asks, “Is someone attacking you?”
“No.”
“Good cause I wasn’t getting out of this warm bed to come save you.”
That people is true love at its finest.
In his defense if I was being attacked by a person and not an evil chair he would have helped me fight off the attacker…I think.

The eggish thing I made

The eggish thing I made

I used the four/water method because I did not have any fabric stiffener. Going to buy some for just one little project is just insane. Would I do this project again? Sure if I ever have some spare stiffener lying around.

Now I have this pack of balloons looking at me, begging to be used. I have the perfect Pin for those bad boys. So off on another Pinteresting adventure I go. Until next time, may the Pin be with you.

Gardens, not just for hiding bodies

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 Some of today’s blog is about things I’ve seen on Pinterest and some things I’ve pinned. All are about the garden. I was looking on Pinterest last week in the gardening section while the husband was watching something boring on TV. I see this strawberry planter, it is a little late to plant strawberries but I thought that would be a great project for next spring. I show the picture to my husband and say, “what you think about doing this in the spring?” He looks at the picture, nods his head and looks back at the TV. Little did I realize his brain was hard at work.

“What are the measurements?” he asked. I clicked on the Pin and of course it’s a dead link. But the caption on the Pin says something like ‘Strawberry garden bed by the square yard‘. He studies the picture for a few minutes.

Next thing I know we are at Lowes buying stuff for our strawberry bed. Everything except strawberry plants. We choose some trailing annuals to plant until spring. Lowes is always an adventure, Hubby likes to get in get stuff and get out. You put me in the garden center and I am there for a long time. I will fill the cart with plants walk around some more than replace all the plants I’ve chosen with other plants. And I’m always in search of flowers that are black. Usually with no luck.

Hubby, me and power tools is a funny/bad combination. Funny for me bad for my man. He always hits his thumb sometime during a build project. I always laugh. I had several hearty laughs during this project. Since we used guess-aments on the measurements our bed turned out slightly different then the Pin. But I must say I love it! We like most people struggle with money so our budget only allowed a few plants and we could only plant just one side. I can’t wait until I can fill all four sides with flowers.

 21e52e3735bffd6a4078c557ccb13052 2013-06-01_15.25.35 our planter

 This spring I saw the suet cage bird nest thingy pin. Thingy being a technical term. You take an empty suet cage sill with yarn, ribbon and fabric scraps. Hang outside and the birds use all that stuff to build their nest. I filled my suet cage, hung it up and birds flocked to it grabbing up materials. My daughter jokingly said “What if all those birds are in other peoples trees?” she so jinxed me. Somewhere are people enjoying some people awesome bird nests. I did find one nest in my crab apple tree with a dash of color. I was disappointed until I saw baby birds. Baby birds! How can you not be happy about that? Well turns out you can…baby birds are loud and apparently don’t sleep. But thankfully that last only a few weeks.

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 I love my yard. It is work in progress. In past homes I would follow design rules about gardening and I was happy with my yards but not in love with them. When we moved to our current home I decided to plant what I want where I want. Now I LOVE MY YARD!

Here is my little herb raised bed:2013-05-28_19.42.44

My BAHs, big ass hostas:2013-05-28_19.43.31

My awesome planter in the spring with bulbs and now with a mix of plants:

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Shady spot under tree. This is the first year so everything is small. In the next few years it will be full of hostas and ferns.

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So my advice, leave the bodies out of the garden they keep better in the trunk anyway.

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