Rose Rocks

February 21st, 2017

Well, it's only 3 weeks into February and I'm finally sharing my February flavor of the month with you! Better late than never, right? Right?! 

This month has definitely been a whirlwind for Sweet Gems. I have had more orders than ever before, which is amazing! I am so delighted that y'all like my sweet treats and support my mission to share geology with everyone! With the busy-ness, though, comes less sleep, less doggy cuddles (which is the WORST, amiright?!?!), and less time to spend blogging. But I'm here today, y'all! Three day weekend for the win!! 

February's flavor is probably the funnest (is that a word?) one to date! It is sweet, fruity, and best of all, boozy. That's right. Boozy. Because we baked with rosé. Can you say yum? 

Rosé Macarons, #sweetgemshtx #bakingwithgeology

This flavor was inspired by one of my favorite minerals, the barite rose. These minerals are thought to have formed in the subsurface within fractures and faults of a sandstone. As water flowed through the pores and faults within the rock, barite precipitated out of solution since it is highly insoluble. Barite crystals grow in a radial habit from a single nucleation point in three dimensions, kind of like blades on a fan. Therefore, the crystals arrange themselves in a rosette pattern, which results in the overall structure looking like a rose bloom. Isn't that incredible?! This usually occurs in dry and sandy environments. Throughout parts of geologic history (specifically the Permian time), Oklahoma was a semi-arid environment with periodic marine fluctuations, providing a fantastic environment in which the barite roses could develop. Because barite roses are typically only found in Oklahoma, barite rose is the state rock of Oklahoma (even though it's a mineral, not a rock, but that's a blog post for another day...) 

Rosé Macarons, #sweetgemshtx #bakingwithgeology

I don't have any samples of barite rose (although I really should after living in Oklahoma for 6 years!!!!), so I don't have photos to share. The images that pop up on Google, though, are fantastic if you want to see just how amazing barite roses are! 

So, next time you're drinking a glass of rosé with your friends during happy hour, you can share with them these fun little tidbits about barite rose! And if you ever find yourself hiking around Oklahoma, be on the look out for these rose rocks! 

Photos: Elisheva Golani and Daniel Golani

Calligraphy: Kristara

Florals: Flower Vibes

Styling: Melia Rebeca Events

Decor: Decor and More Rentals

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Gosh Garnet, Where Did 2016 Go?!

January 5th, 2017

Happy New Year, friends!! Hope you've all had a wonderful, relaxing holiday season recharging for what's to come in 2017! I certainly enjoyed my time off work. I spent my free time trying out new cake recipes, reading (I finished two books y'all!!!), and spending lots of time with my family and friends. I'm sad that the break is over, but boy oh boy was it great!

I do love January. I love the fresh start. I love the excitement and anticipation it brings with the new year. And I especially love the motivation it gives me! Before every New Year, Zach and I discuss some of our goals for the next year. Sometimes they are mostly home-improvement related, sometimes they are more relationship related, but ALWAYS on the list is working out. ALWAYS at number one. Guess how many times this girl has been to the gym this year?! 3 times. That's right, 3 times. And I plan to go tomorrow too! I'm on a roll! #cantstopwontstop Wish me and my fitness journey good luck this year!!

I really wanted the flavor of the month for January to be something funny and topical - since everyone and their dog sets New Years goals of working out and eating healthier, I thought it would be hilarious to make KALE the flavor of the month. But then I thought, who would eat a kale macaron? I don't even eat kale in real life. So rest assured, my friends, the flavor is not kale.

It is a fruit, though! A yummy wintery fruit that I like to put in sangria, because #wine.

CRANBERRY VANILLA aka GARNET

Cranberry Vanilla Macaron, Garnet, Flavor of the Month, January, #bakingwithgeology #houstonbakery

I love cranberries. They are always one of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love the equal amount of sweet and tart! I filled each macaron with a vanilla buttercream and a homemade cranberry butter jam. SO GOOD. Each bite is sugary sweet and tart and fluffy and amazing. Have I mentioned how much I love January?!

 

Cranberry Vanilla Macarons, Houston Macarons

Any January babies out there? If so, I bet you already knew about garnet being the birthstone for January. Garnet is hands down one of my most favorite gemstones. I even told Zach I wouldn't mind having a garnet engagement ring....just go ahead and pinterest those babies. Swoon. The most common form of garnet is a deep, rich red color, like a good Cabernet ;) It's actually a really hard mineral, too. In geology, hardness is a measure of the resistance of mineral to abrasion or scratching. Hardness is measured relatively on a scale of 1 to 10 on what's called the Mohs Hardness Scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest. Diamonds are the hardest mineral of all - they will scratch anything, including other diamonds! Did you know that when we drill for oil and gas, at the tip of the drill bit is covered with diamonds to help cut through the rocks? Those things definitely cost a pretty penny! So back to garnets - one of the reasons that garnets are so hard is because it is a type of silicate mineral and forms covalent bonds (bet you didn't think you were going to get a chemistry lesson when you started reading this, did you?!) Garnet often forms with igneous and metamorphic rocks (at high temperatures and pressures), so you could find garnets in granites (igneous rock) or schists (metamorphic rock). 

Holla acha girl if you wanna try these bad boys out! Homemade.Cranberry.Butter. Need I say more?! 

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October Flavor of the Month

October 8th, 2016

I love October. There's something special about the way it feels - college football on every weekend, crisp air in the mornings, leaves changing colors (well, let's be real. In Houston they only change from dark green to light green, but I'll take what I can get!!), and pumpkins everywhere. I love all the pumpkins. The small ones, the flat ones, the yellow ones, the tall ones. All of them. So this month HAD to be pumpkin flavored! 

 

Pumpkin Pie Macarons

 

Pumpkin pie is fall in a bite, amiright?! So just imagine a macaron, a delicate French macaron, flavored like your favorite season. It's aaaaamazing. Spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla.... mmmm... I might have to go eat one now... 

 

Pumpkin Pie Macs

 

You know what pumpkins remind me of? The earth! Even though pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes, you can often find them in a globe-like shape - PERFECT for carving jack-o-lanterns! I love studying earth history, it's one of my favorite aspects of geology. That's why this flavor of the month is named after Pangaea, a supercontinent that is thought to have existed as long as 300 million years ago. Pangaea looked like a big boomerang, essentially, with an ancient ocean separating the north and south ends. The shape of this land mass caused drastically different climate and atmospheric patterns than we have today. Due to tectonic plate movement, similar to the continental drift theory that was originally proposed by Alfred Wegener in the early 1900s, the landmass began to rift and break apart resulting in the organization of the continents we have today. One of the strongest pieces of evidence for this supercontinent is fossil match. We find fossils of the same land animals along the west African coast as in the east South American coast. We also see some of the same rocks on different continents. The Appalachian Mountains in the United States are the same mountain chain as the Caledonian Mountains up in Scandanavia. The continents today are pretty much like the pieces to a jigsaw puzzle - you can piece them together with all the fossil data and rock evidence and get an image of what Pangaea may have looked like in the past!

 

pumpkin pie cupcakes

 

Today also marks the first day of Earth Science Week this year, an international event of education and celebration of the earth sciences. In Houston, there will be events at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a guided field trip near the Woodlands (check here for more info!)

We are watching the OU-TX game right now (Boomer Sooner!), and will probably be watching football the rest of the day. #lazyday but I'm not complaining ;) Enjoy your beautiful (and hopefully pumpkin-filled) weekend, friends!

 

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September Flavor of the Month

September 13th, 2016

Olive oil. With sugar. Weird? Maybe. Delicious? Absolutely.

 

When trying to think of this month’s special flavor, I thought about what September means to me. It used to mean back-to-school (so maybe some apple flavor), end of summer (maybe a fruity flavor), and then it hit me. Last September was the best and most important September of all Septembers! It was the September I got married!

 

After our wedding, we honeymooned in Italy. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss rowing the canals of Venice, climbing up the clock tower in Florence, or walking the ancient ruins in Rome. I loved Italy. I want to live in Italy. And drink all the wine and eat all the cuttlefish pasta in Italy (I promise, it’s amazing!!!)

 

So what a better way to celebrate our 1-year anniversary of our Italian vacay (and our wedding!!!) than with lemons and olive oil?! I found this ahhhhmazing lemon infused olive oil from Olive and Vine in City Centre. While I was at the shop, I learned a TON about olive oil. Did you know that it takes a full generation to make olive oil?! I had no idea either. While we were there, we also got a huge bottle for our regular cooking, too. Seriously y’all, this stuff is good.

So I experimented with some cupcakes to make sure I could even get a good batch baking with olive oil, and man oh man, are they good. Different from a traditional cupcake, but tasty as ever for sure!

Now you’re wondering, what the heck is geologic about olive oil?! Well, I was wondering the same thing when I walked into the shop to pick up the oil. But then, after talking with the owners about how olive oil is made, how long it takes, and how it is stored in barrels while it is maturing, it hit me! This sounds awfully familiar to PETROLEUM oil.

 

Yes, definitely not as tasty, but just as important! After all, my job kind of depends on it ;) Petroleum oil is formed from ancient rocks with high organic matter content (think rocks with a lot of plant/bug remains in it). After millions of years of heating up due to getting buried deeper and deeper, the organic rock, also known as the source rock, begins to transform that organic matter into oil! The oil is a fluid and moves through rocks until it gets stuck somewhere (also known as a trap). We explore for these traps of oil, and when we make a discovery, the amount of oil in the trap is measured in BARRELS of oil.

 

Cool, right?! I must say, I’m a little more biased towards the olive version of oil since, you know, you can actually eat it :P Enjoy, friends! 

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Meg Stearman

Geologist by day, macaron baker by night!

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