Home Brew

Now I’m not running a distillery or making up a batch of ‘shine, but somehow or ‘nother I’ve gotten myself into the brewing business. I know, I know, I have a ton of projects, always something new, but I’ve been assured this is easy, and it’s just for me, so it doesn’t really matter if it goes sideways.

So what is it I’m going on about? Kombucha. Say what? A few years ago, I’d never heard of it either. It’s fermented sweet tea. Supposedly, the sugar in the tea feeds the scoby, and you end up with tangy, fermented goodness.

I’ve always been a sucker for tart lemon squares and cold lemonade, but I’m not crazy about the ton of sugar that goes into these. So when I was attending a class on foods that reduce inflammation, I sat by a woman fighting breast cancer who was drinking lemonade kombucha, and she poured me a glass. It was tasty and only had 3 grams of sugar—much less than you’d expect.

Kombucha is fermented and full of good bacteria that’s healthy for your gut biome. People with MS have less diversity in their gut, so a little kombucha could help with that, too. Besides, it’s kind of fizzy, and while I gave up soda years ago, I do like a little fizz.

So after meeting the lady, I started treating myself to some kombucha when I went grocery shopping. It’s pricey, so I’d usually just pick up a bottle or two; and when Baby Girl was home, I’d buy one for her. It’s was kind of our little thing.

Guess who bought me a kombucha kit for Mother’s Day? That’s right, BG for the win. We live hundreds of miles apart, and met in the middle to celebrate with Sweet Miss, The Fella, his mom, and of course the MR.

With shipping, and school, and planning, BG had the kit sent to our house rather than bringing it to Hood River. Later that week, I received a starter kit from Joshua Tree Kombucha. It comes with a big, old jug, a rubber band, a project cover, a lid, instructions, and a scoby.

Let’s take a closer look at that scoby—pretty nasty-looking, huh?

Who ever thought to put that in their tea?

I simply brewed a gallon of Charleston Black Tea (a gift from a friend’s visit to that fair city) and a cup of sugar, let it cool, added the scoby, and then I waited. Waiting is the hard part. Add to my lack of patience a quick trip to Chelan, home for an evening, and then a weekend in Portland for a Hitchin’ the Happy Couple barbeque, moving Sweet Miss into her new apartment, previewing wedding hairstyles, and car shopping, I was on a deadline.

Right on the lake with a beautiful view.

For the first brew, you just cover the kombucha with a cloth, but for the second brewing (where you get the fizz), you put a lid on tight. You have to be careful and burp the bottles daily or you could wind up with a mess. I didn’t want to come home to exploded bottles and kombucha everywhere, so I only allowed it to sit on the counter overnight. Once you put it in the fridge, it gets less volatile. My quick and dirty process yielded a less than fizzy version, but there’s always the next batch.

I’m bottling it up this afternoon. Safeway had berries on sale last week, and the local fields have opened for picking, so I think I’ll try a strawberry-basil bottle for starters.

Cross your fingers and think fizzy thoughts for me. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Together Time

It’s one of those days when you wake up and know it’s going to be good.

Me and the MR are spending the weekend with Baby Girl, Sweet Miss, and the Fella. We have wedding stuff, wine tasting, Mother’s Day, and together time on the schedule. Like I said, you just know it’s going to be good.

Baby Girl was home in March, but we haven’t seen Sweet Miss since February. So I’m a little excited.

When I talked to SM last week, she mentioned she’d been dreaming about my beef jerky. I made it regularly back when the girls were playing volleyball, but it’s been years. Well, if my girl wants beef jerky, this mom’s going to make beef jerky.

I bought a roast and started looking through my recipes. Aunt Linda’s marinate was nowhere to be found. Lucky me, I’d posted it on the blog once upon a time.

So I printed off a copy and pulled out the slicer. Let’s hope it’s just like she remembered it.

If your hungry for jerky, you can check out It’s Jerky Time.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. With these sweet darlings, I know we will.

It’s Just What You Do

The other day, I was chit-chatting with Sweet Miss. She’d been at a baby shower and was surprised that the only handmade present was the blanket I’d made for her friends. Then we went on to discuss whether it simply that fewer people are making things these days, or whether her expectations are skewed by having me as her mother.

When I hear someone is expecting, I start planning a blanket, or a sweater, or maybe a special hat for the baby. You present this precious new life a gift made with love–it’s just what you do.

In the last year, our friends have had a lot of good news in the baby department. I’ve made a hat, sweater and blanket for a new mom on her own, a hat and sweater for friends who adopted, a balnket for Sweet Miss’ friends, a hat and sweater for a sweet baby I get to hold at MOPS, and I’ve just finished a blanket for the MR’s cousin’s daughter’s baby boy who’s expected soon. All these babies have been keeping me busy, but this last project has been something special.

When me and the MR were first married, we celebrated his grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with all his family down in California. His cousin’s daughter was seven and immediately adopted us. At the party, she told everyone we were her parents.So of course I knew I had to make something special for her when we found out she was expecting.

Her nickname is Desert Barbie, and her family likes playing at their property in the desert, so when I saw the Sleep Tight Teddy Bear Blanket on Ravelry, I knew I had a winner. This baby will be camping and enjoying the outdoors while still in diapers. The blanket features a row of teddy bears sleeping in faux sleeping bags; it looked simple enough.

The first hiccup was the stitch pattern that delineates each bear’s sleeping bag. It requires you to flip the blanket back-and-forth, back-and-forth over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is simple, beautiful, and quite effective, but flipping a big blanket multiple times in a row gets tiresome.

Then came the color change from blue to white. I’d had a ton of Twize yarn from South West Trading Company, a variegated bamboo, on hand and thought it would make the perfect blanket for a baby boy. I wasn’t that worried about finding some 100% bamboo for the top and teddies; I guess I just didn’t think it through. I went shopping with Baby Girl, and we bought some acrylic at the craft store when bamboo was nowhere in sight–it would be fine. I was so wrong. I was going from drapey, marled bamboo to stark white, stiff acrylic. It looked awful.

With three-quarters of a blanket done–remember all that flipping?–I knew I needed some bamboo yarn. The due date is just around the corner. Well, while the Twize yarn is discontinued, I was able to find it for sale in a number of other people’s stashes on Ravelry. I really wanted a white as a backdrop for the sleeping bears, but Twize was all a brightly twisted jumble, maybe a solid would like strange? The pale gray had a pink tinge to it on the screen. So I went with the yellow/blue twist. It was a little bright, but it’d do.

The yarn arrived, and I forged on with the teddy bears. I made heads, and muzzles, and ears, and paws.  I took a look, and just said, huh? This doesn’t look anything like a teddy bear. It looked more like a sock monkey to me.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I just had to trust the process and keep going. I’m so glad I did.

 

I just needed to add a little embroidery and put all the pieces together.

And look what I ended up with? Sweet little teddy bears with lots of personality to match the rest of the family.

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It’s bright, it’s crazy, it’s fun. Perfect for them.

Here are a few of my other gifts and recipients just to bump the cuteness factor.

Do you have a go to gift you like to present to new babies? Any handmade specialties?

 

All About April

April showers have given way to May. You know what that means; it’s time for our monthly recap of the blog.

We had speakersSpring, and a generator. The speakers are great, spring is a little fickle, and we haven’t had the need to use the generator, but it’s ready and waiting.

A new laundry room rennovation is in the future. We’ve checked out wine fridges and matching column fridges and met with a contractor. Much more is in store, but we may have to wait a while on this one. In the meantime, be sure to check out the inspiration all around you.

And now for updates and other news. Me and the MR took a quick trip to Palm Springs, for dinners out, sunshine, shopping, hiking, swimming, and games. My garden still needs some work, but the MR has the wall around the generator looking great. We donated a few things to our local MOPS garage sale, but I think it’s time for some more spring cleaning.

And in other good news, we received an invitation from Sweet Miss and the Fella for their upcoming wedding. It’s getting real.

How was your April?

Eyes Wide Open

Me and the MR spent a weekend at the beach in early March. We were hoping for sun and sand, instead we found gray skies and rain.

Sure we were a little disappointed, but the ladies in the party took the opportunity to walk into town and shop for a party dress.

Even in the rain, there’s beauty and inspiration. Just look at this planter.

These vibrant tiles chase away the gloom. And what about this brick wall?

We were walking past this tiny park when I was stopped in my tracks by the beauty of the brickwork.

While I don’t have the skill to recreate this, I love the idea of turning the basics of life into art.

Perhaps it’s time to give the orchard fence an upgrade.

You may be wondering about that party dress. Grandma MeeMee has a new outfit for Sweet Miss’ wedding.

Sweet Miss, Baby Girl, and the MR are all kitted out. Now I just have to find a dress and we’ll be set.

Where are you finding inspiration?

March was Marvelous in 2018

Sometimes I look back at the month and say “wow” look at all those posts, so many things happened; but other times, I just say “hmm.” It’s not like we did nothing; I just didn’t manage to write about it.

So here’s just a little of what we did in March. Me and the MR flew to LA for a wedding and a rainy weekend at the beach, we spent time with family, and Baby Girl came home for spring break. We met people for lunch, and dinner, and movies, and wine tasting. Plus we went shopping and  bought new tires, and new brakes. The MR bought a suit for the big event this summer, Sweet Miss’ dress arrived (it’s beautiful), BG’s dress arrived (lovely, too), Cocoa chased deer and barked at a bear. I went to a wine and paint night with my buddy. We were busy.

And now here’s the blog in a blink. That Snowball Effect started off with just one job that turned into craziness. While we were out of town, the tree guys came and took down some huge cedars. Everything looked great till, we realized our propane tank was rapidly emptying. There was a break in the line, and we had to do without for a few days. With a little rearranging of the schedule, the new tank went in early, and all is well.

It’s in the Details is a cautionary tale about the need to think things through. Let’s just say, a well-lit mantel is a lovely thing–we just don’t have it. Maybe some day…

The Second Time Around had me planting kiwi vines in the garden. This is take two, and after the wind, hail, snow, and rain of the last few weeks, we may wind up with a third try. Knock on wood for me and my kiwis. The onion sets are looking great, and the orchard is continuing to break out in bloom.

Wishing for Sun showcased our lovely view and the new lounge chairs we’ve bought. It snowed on Easter. It may be a while before they get any use. It’s just one of those months.

And now because I’m glad to be winding up more than a few knit and crochet projects and Cocoa makes me laugh, here’s BG’s new socks and her lovely feet.

BGs socks

The MR is cutting back on his consulting, and we’ve got a bunch of projects on the fire, and I’m hoping to be a little more present in April. After four visits, our wifi is finally working, so I should be a little less frustrated when I do write to you.

Happy April!

My People

You know how you send your children off to school, and they come home with all sorts of information and ideas you’ve never even heard of? I guess it means all that money we’re paying for education is actually doing something.

Sweet Miss graduated a couple years ago and started teaching at a new school last fall. She’s been using phrases like “Conscious Discipline” and “Reggio Emilia Approach”. Huh? Like I said before, it looks like she learned something in all that schooling.

One method she explained for dealing with a fussy child missing their mom or dad was to ask them who their person was. After that, you simple blow that person a kiss and say “I wish you well” and move on. I’m not sure how well that works, but I do agree it’s important to know who your people are.

My people are the ones on the mantel.

The MR and the girls are having a great time at a recent Dad’s Weekend, and then me and the MR are looking for King Kong on our trip to New York a few years ago. The photos are reminders of family and togetherness. I love how the green in the frame picks up on all the green in the stadium. It’s recycled from a motherboard (which the MR used to design), and we bought it back in Kansas when my nephew got married.

I’ve been searching for a frame for the picture of the two of us for ages. It’s an odd size, and it wouldn’t fit in a regular frame without having to crop out the top of the Empire State Building, and that’s kind of the whole point of the thing. A little wandering at Target last week, and a floating frame came to the rescue.

The picture with the penny is from Papa Larry. It arrived in the mail shortly after I finished the penny counters in the den area. And the slate and copper wire mirror I picked up on a family trip to eastern Washington.

I like knowing who my people are and surrounding us with memories.

Who are your people?