Products Available at Black Umbrella Tattoo and Art Gallery

If you looking for my products, they can now be found in Garden Grove, CA at Black Umbrella. I am still taking custom orders, but my online store is now closed. There is a variety of items available there, so stop by and maybe get a tattoo while you shop. =) Black Umbrella is located at: 12951 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840. Say “Hello” to Kurtis for me. =)

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Turkey Giblets Dog Treats

I never know what to do with the giblets that come with the turkey. I usually just toss them in the garbage, but this year I figured I wouldn’t waste anything and decided to make some dog treats. My dogs loved them, so hopefully yours will too.

Recipe: Skill Level=Easy

Utensils needed:

Food processor or blender

Rubber Scraper

Parchment paper

Cookie Sheet (preferably stone, but any kind will work)

Rolling Pin

Cookie Cutter (I used a bone shape, but any shape will work)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked turkey giblets (I boiled mine in chicken broth, but you can cook them anyway you like)

2 large carrots, peeled and cooked (boil in water until tender)

3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Bread Mix

1 organic egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit

Blend giblets and half of the chicken stock in the food processor until a paste forms.

Add oats and remaining chicken stock and blend.

Transfer into a bowl.

Add egg, cornbread mix and carrots and fold with rubber scraper until a nice dough forms in the bowl.

Dust your surface and rolling pin with some of the cornbread mix leftover in the bag.

Dust the top of your dough ball with some cornbread mix and roll dough out into 1/4″. Dust your cookie cutter with the cornbread mix and cut out biscuits with the cookie cutter and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 2.5 hours until crisp.

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Overcoming Grief, Spiritually

On August 4, 2016, our cat Dollar passed away. He had been having seizures about every hour for the last 12 hours. The Veterinarian recommended with his age (he was 16) that he be put down. There was something wrong with Dollar’s brain because when he was laying there, his eyes were unresponsive and he just slowly growled. It was disheartening to see our sweet cat mentally gone before we could say goodbye. We still said our goodbyes in hopes that some part of him could hear us and understood how thankful we were to have had him in our lives. Dr. Wentworth came in, gave her condolences and injected him. He stopped growling and she listened for his heart and said, “He’s gone.” Those words were so rueful. I was not prepared for this! I had just lost my dog, Buddy 2 weeks prior. I was barely functional, getting though each day by just going through the motions. This had gone on for a whole week until I noticed on social media that there was a meteor shower on August 11-12, 2016 (Perseids Meteor Shower).

On the night of August 11th around 11:00 PM I went outside to watch the meteor shower, because I needed something to distract me from my grief. I grabbed 2 beach towels and headed out towards the pool by the chaise lounges. I laid one towel on the chaise and used the other as a blanket, since I was in my nightgown. I stared at the sky for a while and did not notice any meteors, so I did some research on my phone.

From my research I discovered that I needed to be facing North-East. I proceeded to download a free compass application on my phone and found NE. I pinpointed the location, and moved my chaise in the correct direction and started to stare at the sky again. I briefly looked to my left and what I saw was staggering; at the corner of my rooftop was a silhouette of cat that looked just like Dollar. I immediately began to cry because I had been asking Dollar all week to send me a sign that he was okay. My tears turned into weeping, and then into tears of joy and comfort. The emotional whirlwind that occurred was uncanny.

Cat Silouette
Cat Silhouette

When my emotions finally reached the point of acceptance, I saw a red-orange streak across the sky. My first meteor sighting of the night! This ensues full blown, throat clenching sobbing. I have a GREAT cry, like a full body healing cry, and then I laid back to search the sky for more meteors. I spoke to Dollar as if in prayer, because I said the words in my head. I said to him, “Dollar, I love you. Thank you for all the love you gave me. I will never forget you. I will forever be grateful to have had you in my life.”

Over the next 30 minutes, I spent my time watching the dark figure of the cat and sky. I embraced the moment, sat still and just enjoyed the comfort of this wonderful gift I had received. It was the peaceful, last evening I needed to have with Dollar. Much different from the evening I had on August 3rd where I spent all night comforting him through repeated seizures. The comfort I felt sitting under the stars watching the sky with this cat was the exact comfort Dollar had provided me his whole life. The night had begun to get colder, but I felt only warmth. It was as if my soul had received a big hug.

Around 12:00 AM on August 12, 2016, I looked away from the cat to look at the sky for more meteors. When I looked back to my left the cat was gone. I stayed outside for another 15 minutes to try and catch another glimpse of a meteor, but I never did see another one that night.

Cat Collage

Dollar Kershner 2000-2016

 

 

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Organic Gluten Free Banana Pecan Bread (serves 8)

With only 245 calories per serving, this batch of bread I made had to be shared! It is perfect for a quick breakfast or even a dessert.

Ingredients:

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour

1 cup Organic Sugar

2 Small Organic Bananas

1 Organic Brown Egg

2.5 teaspoons Baking Powder

0.25 teaspoon Salt

0.25 cup of chopped pecans

0.25 teaspoon Cinnamon

0.25 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

1 tsp Imitation Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix banana, almond milk, egg and vanilla in a blender.

Slowly mix in wet ingredients into dry until combined. Do not over-mix.

Pour batter into lined loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Farm to Table Swiss Chard

I grew some lovely chard in my garden and came up with this simple and delicious recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:

1 bunch Swiss Chard (preferably grown in your backyard)

3 slices of bacon (Can omit bacon for 2 tbsp of olive oil if vegetarian)

1 heaping tbsp of diced red onion

1 pinch of garlic salt

Ingredients
Ingredients

 

Directions:

Chop chard and remove center spine on all leaves. Dice onions.

Chopped chard
Chopped chard

 

 

 

 

 

Place strips of bacon in frying pan and begin frying the bacon. (If using olive oil, place 2 tbsp of oil in pan but do not heat yet)

Bacon
Bacon
Bacon Grease
Bacon Grease

 

Once bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel to absorb the oil. Leave bacon grease in the pan for sauteing the chard.

 

 

 

Chop bacon and place it back into the pan with the diced onions. Saute at medium-high heat about 1 minute. (If using olive oil, saute onions in the olive oil on medium-high heat)

Onions & Bacon
Onions & Bacon

Add chard and garlic salt into pan and saute until soft. Serve immediately.

Adding chard
Adding chard
Add Garlic Salt
Add Garlic Salt
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Bath Bombs: You’re using them wrong!

I will admit, I was guilty of this in the beginning. I would place the bath bomb in front of me and watch it swirl around and fizz. Yes, it is fun to watch, but wrong.

The correct way to fully enjoy the bath bomb and it’s therapeutic effects are to place in underneath you. I generally will choose my lower back or my neck and shoulders. Heck, use 2 bath bombs for both spots.  Why not? When the bomb is fizzing, it essentially creates a Jacuzzi-like effect. Wouldn’t you rather have those “jets” against your sore back or tired shoulders, than swirling around in front of you?

My favorite bomb to use this method with is the After The Gym Bath Bomb. It is positively delightful after a barre class, or any workout. So next time you decide to drop one of those delightful bath bombs into the tub, try it my way. You’ll love it, I promise!

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DIY Haunted Mansion/Nightmare Before Christmas Wreath

It was September 17th, and I was ready for Halloween. I figured I should put some of my Michael’s coupons to use and start my first Halloween project. I have always loved when Disneyland transforms the Haunted Mansion for Halloween and Christmas, so I decided to attempt to make the wreath from the ride. I figured I could use it on both Halloween and Christmas (Self justifying my purchases, because I may have a bit of a crafting hoard already).

I do not consider myself an artist in the slightest. I consider myself “crafty”. This project is definitely a crafty project. As long as you can paint some circles, you will do just fine!

Here’s what you need to complete this project:

  • A Plain Christmas Wreath
  • Some fake holly
  • 1 package Wired Pine Garland Ties
  • 1 package Styrofoam eggs (assorted sizes)
  • White Foam Board
  • 1 foam sheet
  • Monster Wiggle Eyes
  • 3 Red Fake Sunflowers
  • Black & White Striped Ribbon
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
  • Acrylic Paint: Red, Green, Yellow & Black
  • X-Acto Knife

 

Step 1: Cut 1 larger egg and 3 smaller eggs in half. Paint both sides of larger egg yellow, and 1 side of each of the smaller 3 eggs yellow and set aside to dry. Paint the other side of the smaller 3 eggs green and set aside to dry.

Painting Eggs
Painting Eggs

Step 2: While the painted eggs are drying, cut pieces of holly and find a center place for the “nose holly”. Glue holly for nose and additional holly where you desire. Cut stems off of red sunflowers and glue them on the bottom portion of the wreath.

Gluing Holly
Gluing Holly
Gluing Sunflowers
Gluing Sunflowers

Step 3: Cut teeth from Foam Board using X-Acto knife. These don’t need to be done in any specific fashion. I just cut random fangs. Once cut, glue to the back of the wreath, and reinforce the hold with a piece of the foam sheet. I cut 14 teeth total. 7 for the top and 7 for the bottom.

Attaching Teeth
Attaching Teeth

Step 4: Once the yellow paint has dried, paint the black dots on the large eggs for the pupils and set aside to dry. Paint the inside of the smaller eggs red, and set aside to dry. Mix yellow and red paint together to make the color to use for the mini monster’s lips. Use that paint to paint a strip of the foam sheet and set aside to dry.

Painting Red
Painting Red
Painting Eyes & Lips
Painting Eyes & Lips

Step 5: Once the paint has dried on all pieces, take the green side of the mini-monster mouths and paint yellow and red dots on them and set aside to dry.

Painting Dots
Painting Dots

Step 6: While the paint is drying on the dots you may now cut thin strips of the foam sheet you painted and begin gluing it to the yellow part of the mouths. Also cut small pieces of the foam sheet into teeth for the mini-monsters (about 1/4″ or more big) and set aside).

Step 7: Once the paint has dried on the dots, begin attaching the foam sheet teeth to the bottom portion of you mini-monster mouth and lips(to bottom and top) with your glue gun. Then glue the 2 sides of the of the mouths together and reinforce the hold with an additional piece of foam (pictured on the left).

Teeth and Lips
Teeth and Lips

Step 7: Glue on the large yellow eyes, mini-monster mouths and monster wiggle eyes.

Mini-Monsters
Mini-Monsters

Step 8: Once the glue has cooled, tie the black and white ribbon into a bow on the bottom of the wreath. (I actually tied the bow around a piece of the wreath). Attach arms by using the the wired pine garland ties. Simply twist and attach to make arms.

 

If you make one of these, please comment and let me know how it turned out.

 

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Soap made with Bacon Grease

I was watching Season 4 of Scandal and suddenly became inspired by the character Harmony to make soap using animal fat. I have made soap for a few years using all plant based oils, but I have been wanting to try something new. On Saturday while frying bacon, I decided I would give it a try. I always strain my bacon grease into a coffee mug, but this time I strained it through a cheesecloth to remove any residual meat flakes. I then weighed the grease and grabbed some of my other oils and got my creative hat on.

I figured since I am using bacon grease, this was definitely a soap I would make as a gift for the men in my family. I mean, what man doesn’t love bacon? I then asked my husband to help me pick out a fragrance and we decided on Sensuous Sandalwood from Brambleberry. Once the scent was determined, I chose my additional oils to incorporate. I didn’t have enough bacon grease to complete a whole batch of soap made with just bacon grease alone.

Once I determined my oils and their weights, I went back onto Brambleberry’s site to utilize their lye calculator. The calculator asked for a superfatting level, and I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. I have always made my soap from recipes where I was already given the lye amount, so superfatting levels were new to me. I found this article that helped it explain it to me and I chose a level of 3%. Once I had my lye and liquid calculation figured out, it was time to get to work.

****If you have never made cold process soap before, please make sure to read all guidelines and safety precautions before starting this recipe. Lye is reactive and can burn.****

Soap made with Bacon Grease

Ingredients

3.5 oz Bacon Grease (Strained through a cheesecloth to remove any meat particles)

6.25 oz Avocado Oil

2 oz Coconut Oil

10 oz Olive Oil

2.926 oz Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

7.19 oz Distilled Water

1 oz. Sensuous Sandalwood Fragrance Oil

Directions:

  1. Weigh all oils and combine them in one bowl to melt down. (I like to use a small crock-pot for this.)
  2. Weigh and measure water and lye in SEPARATE glass bowls. (I use 2 Pyrex glass bowls.)
  3. Begin adding lye to the water a little a time and stirring. You will notice the water getting cloudy. Keep adding the lye and stirring until all flakes have dissipated.
  4. Begin warming your oils in your crock-pot or in the microwave while the lye water is cloudy.
  5. Once your oils have melted and the lye/water is clear again, take their temperature. You want both to be in a range from 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once both the lye/water and oils are around the same temperate, it is now time to add the lye/water to the oil.
  7. Grab your stick blender, and slowly pour the lye/water over the stick blender into the oils. (If using a crock-pot, turn it off. You do not need to warm the oils anymore).
  8. Once lye/water and oils are in the same bowl, tap the stick blender on the bottom on the bowl to release any air bubbles.
  9. Turn the stick blender on to high and begin mixing. Soaponification will occur within about 1-2 minutes. You will notice a trace forming. (This recipe thickened pretty quick, looking very much like pudding.)
  10. Once trace has occurred, add the fragrance oil and mix again to incorporate the fragrance throughout.
  11. Pour soap into your mold and cover and let sit for 24-28 hours. (I let mine sit for 48 hours). I keep my soap covered by using a wooden champagne box.
  12. After 24-48 hours, un-mold your soap and cut into bars. Once cut, let cure for 4-6 weeks. (I place mine on a baking rack in my guest room to cure.)

    Soap Brick
    Soap Brick

Enjoy! I would love to hear your comments if you make this recipe. You may also contact me if you would like to order some of these already made.

Cut Soap
Cut Soap

 

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Make Beeswax Candles at Home!

Make Beeswax Candles at Home!

I recently came to the conclusion that I may have a serious candle addiction. Every time I pass candles in any store I must stop and smell all of them. This usually leads to the purchase of more candles that I don’t really need, but can’t live without.

As I was organizing my containers for body butters, I noticed I had extra glass jars that I no longer use for my body butters. I just couldn’t bring myself to just toss them in the recycle bin, so I grabbed my beeswax and got to work. I was able to feed my candle addiction, but by using items I already had around the house.

Ingredients:

  1. Beeswax (50%)
  2. Palm Oil (50%)
  3. Essential Oils. Any scent except Sweet Orange. The scent evaporates when burned so it’s pointless to add. (For this batch of candles, I used Lemongrass and Peppermint)

Materials:

  1. Glass Jars with a screw on lid (I used small 4 oz craft jars that I purchased from the dollar section at Target)
  2. Candle Wick (Generally for beeswax candles, you want to use a cotton wick. I purchased mine from Amazon.)
  3. Double Boiler
  4. Wooden BBQ skewers
  5. A pouring ladle (I used a stainless steel Weight Watcher’s 1/4 cup ladle)
  6. A scale

Instructions:

  1. Prime the candle wick: Melt beeswax (enough for how much wick you’ll be using) in your double boiler. Once melted, place wick in beeswax and wait until all bubbles from wick stop. Remove wick from the wax and lay flat on a wax proof surface (my granite counter top was just fine to use) and allow to dry (about 10-15 minutes). Once dry, cut your wick according to your jar size, but allow an extra 2-3 inches to wrap around the skewer.
  2. Figure out how many candles you are going to make. For example, if you are just making one 4 oz jar candle, you will need to melt down 2 oz of beeswax and 2 oz of palm oil. To make beeswax candles, you want to always use a measurement of 50/50 beeswax & palm oil.
  3. Melt beeswax and palm oil in double boiler on medium heat as shown below. Mix often with the wooden skewer.
Melting Beeswax and Palm Oil
Melting Beeswax and Palm Oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Once beeswax and palm oil has melted completely, add essential oils. For one 4 oz candle I used 7 drops lemongrass and 3 drops peppermint. I usually will just add, mix, and smell. If it isn’t strong enough to my liking, I will add more.

5. Pour about 1/2 inch of wax mix into the bottom on the jar using the ladle. Place candle wick in the center and hold in place until it wick stands on it’s own. (You can avoid the holding step if you get candle wick tabs, but I didn’t have any on hand).

6. Once the wick stands on it’s own, wrap the top of the wick around a wooden skewer to hold it in place and set aside until all 1/2 inch of wax has cooled. (Touch the bottom of the glass jar, if it still feels warm, wait longer. I made that mistake and my wick came loose when I poured the rest of the wax).

Half inch of wax with wick
Half inch of wax with wick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Once the 1/2 inch of wax has completely cooled, pour the remaining wax into the jar using the ladle. After the wax settles a bit there may be an air bubble hole left. Pour additional wax into the jar to cover hole.

Poured Candle
Poured Candle

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Allow candles to sit 12-24 hours before use. Trim excess wick leaving 1/4-1/2 inch, screw on lid to jar and enjoy!

 

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No Shampoo?

Edit 11/22/16: I decided that I was tired of purchasing shampoo who's ingredients list is so long that the font had to be so tiny you can barely read it.  I have crafted a shampoo bar with only a minimal amount of Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) in it. I included SLSA in the recipe because standard shampoo bars made with lye still left my hair greasy. I choose to use SLSA instead of SLS because SLSA is milder surfactant and derived from coconut and palm oils. This shampoo bar gets my hair clean and I know EXACTLY what is in it. Hopefully you will enjoy it too. =)

No Shampoo?

Why don't I offer shampoo? The answer is a bit complicated, so if you're up for a story, let's go.

I have made several shampoo bars the natural way (No SLS or sulfates). I valiantly tried all of them along with the vinegar rinse method, and to no avail my hair wasn't having it. I even went to the extent of using bentonite clay on my hair to try to absorb the oils and nothing worked. My hair looked wet and disgusting and after 5 days I caved and shampooed with some store bought shampoo.

I won't sell something that I can't use myself, so I chose to not offer shampoo. I still use my conditioner bar every day and will refuse to ever use any other conditioner than the one I make. I have paired my conditioner bars with a number of shampoos (Purple shampoo for blondes, cheap dollar store shampoo, shampoo bar made with SLS) and the end result is the same; soft, silky luxurious locks. I encourage you to try out one of the conditioner bars even though it doesn't have a shampoo bar pairing. I think you'll love it just as much as I do.

 

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