By: AFarmer
01 August 2004

I've been reading with great interest in the hiding places in plain sight such as Stryder's low-key decorating - and gift-giving - with oil lamps and Eli using everyday pantry containers. This hit pretty close to home because I am forever hiding things so well that *I* may never find them again. It took me several weeks to find my jewelry inventory when I was getting them out to send to various rubies on spec. There had to be a better way.

Putting them loose in plain sight would never do. A strand of pearls is a strand of pearls whether it is displayed on a black felt stand, hanging from a key rack or tossed in a loose change dish on a coffee table.

* I stared at items in my pantries.

* I considered the titles in my video library. Several had already made the list of too uninteresting to watch - which now conceal an assortment of old paper currency.

* How many books did I have that have been doing nothing short of collecting dust for years? Glue the pages together, make a cut out in the center and store pearls inside them. Suffice it to say the Bible is known to far too many people as a hiding place for loose cash.

* How many pairs of slippers and shoes do I have that linger uselessly in closets? The closed-toe variety would be an excellent place for a few strands of pearls.

* Which blouses or dresses do I wear the least? Several strands could hang invisibly inside them from the bottom of their hangers.

* A hair brush handle could be hollowed out to conceal a strand of pearls. Some are even made with a void under the bristles which could harbor a strand of pearls - or a couple rings.

* I could put a strand of pearls around my collie's neck and it would never be seen under all that hair. But dogs tend to scratch their necks roughly - not a good plan.

*Perhaps a hollow dog collar, much the same idea as a money belt. Still tinkering with this one.

* Studying my refrigerator and freezer, I tried to imagine the least likely item to be taken if someone broke into my house in a post SHTF scenario - and the target was food. Mostly the meat and dairy items would be history. What would be left?

I pulled a bottle of ice from the freezer and placed it on the counter to thaw. I went back to the drawing board and looked at the list of items I thought would make good hiding places. I still liked the idea of hiding places in plain sight.

I picked up the thawing bottle of ice and drank that which had melted, then placed it back on the counter - when it dawned on me. Bottled water - frozen. You can't see through it. It would work for white pearls in a cinch, but could the pearls handle being inside a block of ice? Would the ice damage the pearls?

One way to find out.

I filled a bottle 1/3 with water, then placed it upright in the freezer. Once that froze, I placed a strand of black pearls on the ice in the bottle and filled the rest of the bottle with water to about 3" from the lid and placed it, upright, back in the freezer. I did this with two bottles - one with a coke label still on it and one without. If the pearls were obvious in the ice, the label would hide their presence. I did this with several strands - one all white, one all black and one with alternating black and white pearls. I tried it with the smaller seed pearls, the standard 5.5-6mm pearls and the larger baroque pearls.

Pearls of all colors could be seen in bottles with no labels. In the labeled bottles, they were completely concealed. Back to the drawing board.

Using a 20-ounce size bottle, I put about an inch of water in a bottle and placed it in the freezer. Once frozen, I draped a strand of pearls over a toothpick and laid the tooth pick across the opening, added an inch of water and placed in the freezer. The next step was to add another inch of water in consecutive steps until the pearls were embedded in the ice in the middle of the bottle vertically. The final step was to remove the toothpick and let the remainder of the strand fall on top of the ice before adding the last increment of water. This needed revision since the thread the pearls were on had stiffened with freezing, so I let it stand at room temperature for about fifteen minutes to thaw. When the thread was pliable again, the remaining strand simply fell into the bottle on top. Adding one last inch of water to cover them. This did not work. The pearls on top were still visible - but only the last part which were in the smaller neck portion of the bottle. It does work in a 1-liter and 2-liter size bottle.

I left them in the freezer for a week.

When I took the bottles out of the freezer, I left them on the counter to thaw naturally. I then poured the water and pearls out of the bottles and laid the pearl strands on a damp towel to dry. When the towel and pearls were dry, all of them were fine.

The easiest method, of course, was to use a bottle with the label still on. Very few of my existing bottles have labels, though.

So what else was there? Every plastic container I come across is washed out, filled with water and placed in the freezer. Aside from storing that much more water, they do double-duty as ice packs for coolers and when thawed, I still have the cold drinking water - but I digress.

So I filled a former Shake & Pour pancake mix container 1/4 with water, froze it, dropped a pearl necklace into it, filled with water to within 3" of the lid and froze it again. This was even better - no hint that there was anything other than ice in them. And what a great way to transport my jewelry from Florida to Maine - in the cooler.

I am still working on the long-term frozen pearls, but for now - this seems to work. Readily available. Triple duty - hiding pearls, used as an ice pack in the cooler on a trip and once thawed, the water is still pure enough to drink.

But it doesn't end there. What if I am in my camp and have no means to re-freeze the pearls in a bottle or other container for the trip back across the country? Assuming I would have to buy a bag of crushed ice for the return trip, I changed my icemaker dispenser to crushed ice and put enough in a bottle to make a bed of ice for the pearls, then dropped the pearls in as before and filled the bottle to the top with more crushed ice. This works just as well but takes a bit longer to get the ice chips into the bottle.

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