Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perfect Iced Tea

The best thing about having chores done early, before it gets too hot, is sitting down with an ice cold glass of iced tea, home brewed with your own special touch.

Yup, it's that time for me here on the farm. These first couple days of hot weather and clear blue skies brought out the hankering for my own special iced tea, but this year it has a twist. Actually, they're chunks!
Here's how I make mine:

Heat 6 to 8 quarts of water. Do NOT boil the water and do not boil your ingredients. Once the water is steaming, take it off the heat and drop in 3 Lipton (or your tea choice) tea bags, 2 tea bags of Camomile tea, and a couple of chunks of peeled, fresh apple. Boiling the water with your ingredients will make your brew bitter.  This recipe will taste more like sun tea.
Let your brew steep for a least two hours, letting it cool down naturally while soaking up the great flavors you have added.

After your brew has cooled, pour it into a jug and added water. You will have about 2.75 quarts of iced tea after it has refrigerated overnight.

I'm sure most of you think my glass looks plain, but I assure you, the taste is totally yummy! You can add many things to your brew as it's steeping. Fresh lemon and orange slices, of course, will add a definite splash, but there are also your home dehydrated strawberries to pop in. Fresh mint from your garden will perk that glass right up! Any fresh berries will snap up your drink. As a matter of course, I dehydrate as much fruit as I can for those times in the winter where you need some extra something in your hot tea, so if you have them on hand, by all means, drop them in! The more berry, the more merry.

Or, you can just brew up regular tea with camomile thrown in just for the taste. The possibilities are endless, the combinations unique to you.
Do you have your own special recipe for iced tea? Do you keep it the same, or change it every time?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Going back to this now!


Cowland Studio

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making Rocks

Yes- you can! Anything you can paint can become a rock, just by a few easy techniques. You can create beautiful and one of a kind pieces for your home or work place easily and at a fraction of the cost. Say, for instance, you wanted to remake your counter top (which I have thought of doing!), or you need some earthy placemats for your deck table- paint it in stone! Make matching votive holders, candle plates, napkins (using fabric paint, of course)- you can do it just about anywhere.

First, assuming you've picked out what you want to paint, find the type of stone that you'd like. Do a little research. Sedimentary rocks, with their veins of color, are really the very easiest to mimic in painting. They have no set pattern (you know how Mother Nature is), so a flub here or there isn't going to make a difference, because maybe that's how it was supposed to be. But, you can use any stone style that fits with your needs.

Now that you've studied your stone, visualize your starting point. Start with your lightest shade of color. Basecoat if you'd like, but that depends on the surface you are painting. If it's originally hot pink, you definitely want to basecoat first. After your basecoat is dry, start laying down your veins of light shade. Vary the thickness of the paint, using water to thin for a more natural cast. Below, I started with a plastic tray and spray painted it with a Stone Accent spray (this was an experiment). I wanted to use the speckleness for the background.

Desert Jasper

With the basic veins in place, I started adding speckles in their special shades of color. This is where a specialty brush comes in handy if you don't want to paint dot by dot. My brush is an old filbert whose bristles are now all bent and curled, making it the perfect brush for dots, bushes, and trees. This old brush has seem more painting than you can imagine! So, if you have a brush like this, do some dots. Some spots are a thicker grouping than others. You can add some in dot by dot later, too. Keep checking your reference material, but let your hand do the work. It's fun once you get into it!

Now, start bringing in your final, darkest color for the deepest colored veins. Liner brushes are excellent for this. Follow the veins of lighter shades, but don't stick to it strictly. Those deepest veins will form wherever they will in the evolution of the rock. Thin down your paint if you need to, but I've found that the denser the color, the better the vein will look.

Here are two close ups:

That's all there is to it. Simple. Effective. Unique.

Sandstone is another easy stone to mimic in painting. These are a few beads I've painted-

This is a glass votive holder, basecoated:
And finished in Desert Jasper.
These are look-alike Purple Sea Sediment Jasper-
The bracelet in the following picture is real Desert Jasper. The bead is painted to look like it is.
Turquoise is a tough one, but I stuck to it. The copper accents come from copper metal powder suspended in a gloss varnish medium so it wouldn't oxidize while I was waiting for the paint to dry.
A plain, large bangle bracelet turned itself into turquoise:

After making this polymer clay bowl, it needed to be decorated. Here is how the 'making Sandstone' looks in the beginning stage:

It's not difficult to change something to what you want it to be. Painting is a marvelous medium to use, and with some practice, you can use it anywhere. Don't let it intimidate you. With a paint brush in your hand, You are the creator! Make it your way.

I sure do!!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Tell me what you have turned to stone!!


Cowland Studio