Friday, February 27, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Linking with SouleMama

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do You TED?

It seems like each post from TED on Facebook this week has caught my interest.  It began with an excerpt from Pico Iyer's book The art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.  I have read it and re-read it.  "the amount of data that humanity will collect while you are reading The Art of Stillness is five times greater than the amount that exists in the Library of Congress.  Anybody reading it will take in as much information today as Shakespeare took in over a lifetime." Not only is any information that we seek available in triplicate, we have to do the mental exercise of sifting through it.  Iyer's has gotten me thinking about the concept of a "Secular Sabbath", and you will never guess what those who have innovated our technologies know that we do not seem to!

Have you ever wondered just how the targeted marketing shows up on your computer?  It all started with curly fries.

As I enjoy the kombucha that I made, I am fascinated to continue my education on how important our gut is to overall health.  Did you know that we each have a microbial fingerprint?  There are some very exciting implications in the research being done right now!  Check out How our microbes make us who we are.

I have found that much like listening to podcasts, TED talks can be easily incorporated when I am doing things like working in the kitchen or folding laundry.  Do you TED?

Friday, February 20, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

linking with SouleMama

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Changin' Times and Distractions

Times, they are a changin'.  Never a dull moment in our household, always something to shake it up a bit.  This week has led to family introspection, and the decision to have the kids change schools next year.  A big decision, but one leaving the kids with smiles.  The boy child seems to be all set, and eager to meet up once again with his posse of friends.   While we have a few options for Miss Sid and high school,  she is putting a lot of thought into her application questions for a magnet school that is her first choice, and we will hope those thoughtful answers allow her to shine and nudge her way forward.  Fingers crossed!

Trying to figure out the best things for your kids, especially when it involves a shake up, is stressful.  It amps up the nervous energy as I get answers for a plethora of questions, acquire the proper paperwork, and hurry up to wait as things begin to fall into place.  It seems this is the routine for any big change and during those times I appreciate a good distraction.

If you just want to smile watch this!

Check out this innovative urban growing...if you can spare $75,000!

A little bit about The Girls Who Drink Whisky

This five ingredient Pot De Creme recipe is as delicious as simple.

An interesting little group of links that I have been collecting this week.  Laughter, creative solutions, whisky and chocolate....some of my favorite things!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kings and Jesters

We are an equal opportunity household where holidays are concerned.  It may be because they give inspiration for themed foods, and food is love you know.  It is also a way to teach the kids about different cultures and expand their tastes.  We celebrate all of our families traditional holidays but we also recognize everything from Passover to Kwanzaa to Mardi Gras (oh and we also celebrate Julia Child's birthday:).

In honor of Fat Tuesday, I laid out a delicious jambalaya but most importantly a beautiful King Cake.  I have made many yeast based breads and confections, yet this is the first time I was really challenged.  I have always left a covered bowl on our interior kitchen countertop for doughs to rise. Hmm, I guess even though it is 10 degrees outside and I keep the house at 67, that doesn't make yeast happy at all!  Once I figured this out, I warmed the oven slightly and let it rise in there, and that did the trick.

As with any good King Cake, I put a little 'baby' in it.  This was a special baby, a festive lego mini fig jester who was dressed for the day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Home Improvement aka Cans of Worms

What a weekend!  I mentioned earlier that tackling some long awaited tasks upstairs was going to be a priority this year.  We began with the desire to paint and re-arrange our room, which morphed into we really need to deal with our dated en-suite bath first.  So after 5 years of not working, our goal was to replace the shower exhaust vent, sand the ceilings, prime everything with a mildew resistant primer, and paint the whole shebang from top to bottom.  Well the vent is in and set, but as with all cans of worms, B had to rip our half of the compromised plaster ceiling in the shower to get it done right, so now plastering will be added to the do it yourself repertoire.   It looks like we will be sharing the kids bath for a while, but it will be well worth it!

Winter home improvements make me feel like the whole house is preparing for spring when all attention will be turned outside and the inside will soothe our aching muscles.  We have a few tasks in our kitchen, and tearing out the carpet in Charles' bedroom also at the top of the to do list.  Maybe we will have time to tackle stripping the glue from the wood (who glues carpet to wood floors anyway?!) and refinishing the upstairs floors too.  We shall see.

It is not just the in-doors that gets the winter workout.  We purchased a large rolling tool case to begin the task of organizing B's workshop last week.  Of course this weekend it was sub-zero, providing less than comfortable working conditions in the barn, but at least we have the equipment to make it happen!

Friday, February 13, 2015

See One, Do One, Teach One

If you have read here for any period of time, then you know since we moved to the homestead we have dappled in many forms of ferments.  We have lacto-fermented a plethora of vegetables, fed sourdough starters, made wine and mead, fallen in love with shrubs, and made beautiful red wine vinegar.  So when I was invited to spend an evening learning how to make kombucha I jumped on the opportunity.  Fermented foods including kombucha, are wonderful for your body by replenishing much needed probiotics.   Our gut needs these good bacteria to metabolize food appropriately and has lost that ability in large part due to how highly processed so many of our foods are now.

There are many flavors and additions (like chia seeds) that can be added to kombucha, yet what I learned last evening, was making a basic green tea kombucha.  I have never been a big fan of green tea, so when I was handed the sample cup was a bit skeptical.  I must say, that THIS is the way for me to enjoy green tea, it was wonderful!  As I wrote this I was patiently waiting for a gallon of distilled water to come to a boil.  Once it reached a boil, I added 1 cup of pure cane sugar.    When the sugar had dissolved, I removed it from the heat, add 6-8 organic green tea bags and let steep for 30 minutes.  Then removed the tea bags, and let the tea come to room temperature, this takes a few hours so be prepared to walk away.  It is strongly recommended not to leave it overnight to cool.

I had hoped that I could substitute some of the lovely honey that we harvested a few weeks ago, but I learned that raw honey having its own good bacterias and yeasts will not compliment, but compete with the scoby.  So what is a scoby anyway?  A scoby is the jellyfish like starter, much like a mother of vinegar, that allows the green tea to ferment into the finished product over 7-10 days.  A scoby can be used multiple times, and also grows a 'baby' that you separate from its mother to add to other jars.  This way you can have different stages of brewing happening at any given time, giving you a continuous supply.

Once the tea has completely cooled divide between two clean half gallon jars to about the shoulders, as with canning you want to leave about an inch of head space, and you need to have room to put the scoby in.  Then with clean hands gently place the scoby slimy side down along with 1/2-1 cup of liquid from the previous batch, into the tea.  Using a piece of cheese cloth or a paper towel and either a rubber band or a mason jar ring, cover the lid while allowing it to breath and ferment. Wrapping the jars in towels assists in both keeping them at a warmer temperature and in a dark place.  Put them in a warm place out of the way, but not in a cupboard, and do not touch them for 7-14 days.  Recommendations from the group last night was that 10 days was the preferred waiting time for many of them.  A great suggested place to put them would be on top of the refrigerator, our refrigerator is built in but we have a giant hutch in our kitchen and I put them up there.

After ten days your kombucha is complete.  Once again, with clean hands, remove the scoby and place it in its own jar to store it, or put it right into another batch.  Cover the scoby with 1/2-1 cup of the kombucha in the jar so that it is covered.  Strain the kombucha from your two half-gallon jars, return the finished product to the jar, place a lid on it and refrigerate.

That is the basic kombucha tea!  Not difficult at all!  There are many other things that you can try from making a scoby hotel, to a second fermentation with fruits or fermenting to carbonation.  Those trials will be for a future post.  So while mine goes into hibernation for the next ten days, I have one you kombucha??  The best way to start is to see one, do one, then teach one!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Have you ever been in a book slump?  After investing the entire Fall in a book series, and then following that with the final book released in a trilogy, everything seems to be pale in comparison.  I am reading two books now, both very good in their own right, yet neither inspiring the adrenaline that makes me continue to think about them even when I am not reading.

Much of my reading I do in the in-between times.  You know, waiting at School pick-ups or kid activities.   The last couple of weeks, I have invested those times in listening to podcasts.  We absolutely loved our Serial experience during our drive across country at Thanksgiving, and had begun searching other great content to listen to.  Fortunately, there is a lot of inspiration in this realm and a group of ladies whom I adore are listening to different ones as we try to envision great things for our collective future.

Interestingly, I have found a sort of inner peace in listening and learning from podcasts as I do when engaged in a great book.  I am an information and story junkie, and spend much of my drive time listening to programing on WPR, much of which is comprised of shows that I love.  There is also enough content to keep me up to date on news and politics, both local and national, and I realized that much of it makes me sad, angry or frustrated.  Without it, I can immerse myself in a podcast and find a sort of suspension.

Time is suspended.  I came up through the theatre, and am enough of a kid that I believe in magic. To willingly suspend disbelief is something that I treasure about myself.  So whether it be fantasy, mystery, true life storytelling, or the reflections on starting something new, I immerse myself, learn from it, and in this format, thoroughly enjoy it, as a great book.  

My friend Julie  wrote a great post on what she is listening to.  Have you heard of This American Life, Moth or Serial??  If, don't walk and introduce yourself!  I am also loving Startup, Invisibilla, Criminal,  Benjamen Walkers the Theory of Everything, and am just starting The Dinner Party. What are you listening to?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Lot of Bang For the Buck

Last weekend, when I finished shoveling, I looked down at my dry weather affected hands and thought that I should go grab some of the Burt's Bees cuticle moisturizer.  Then, just as I was going to head out, I came across a do it yourself one from doterra.  It utilized some of the beautiful bees wax that we had just collected along with some essential oils.

It was one of the more simple and satisfying do it yourself projects that I have done.  It took a short time, was simple and the small volume in the recipe made ten little jars.

I linked the recipe above, but it is short and sweet.  Combine 2 Tbsp. Shea butter, 1 tsp. bees wax and 1 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil in a glass measuring cup.  Place 2" of water in the bottom of a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Place the glass measuring cup in the saucepan (similar to how you would use a double boiler), and stir with a wooden Popsicle stick until completely melted and combined, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, let sit for 3 minutes, stir in 10 drops of essential oil, I used lavender. Then pour the oil into small containers and let set for 3 hours.  Viola!  This recipe has a lot of bang for the buck, and I am certain that I will do it again!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Fierce Entrance

January sure gave us a run for our money with unexpected journeys on a number of fronts.  Thankfully, February seems to have started much more as I would expect for this time of year, with a blizzard.  I am thankful it is happening on a Sunday when we can hunker down at home with candles lit, games played, books to read and the occasional trip outside to keep up with clearing the snowfall.  We have had next to no snow this season, and the white transformation is welcome.  I see sledding in our future!

I began another 365 this year, however due to the events of January, some photos were beautiful and others were quick shots that left something to be desired.  Though they are true to life,  I will not compile them for this post, but moving forward into the year I will summarize them here.

This is also the time of year that garden dreaming begins in earnest.  B listened to an interview on Garden Talk on Friday, and we ordered the book The Market Gardner yesterday, can't wait to get it!

I can not encourage you enough to take a couple of easy steps when you are roasting a chicken.  We always turn right around and put the carcass back into a pot, covered with water and rough cut veggies to cook down into a stock for future use.  It is so simple, further utilizes your food, and saves you money!  Friday B and I made a simple mushroom risotto using the broth from a stock that we made from our Hay Roasted Chicken.  A simply amazing ad lib.  The earthiness of the mushrooms and the hay complimented one another beautifully!

February is certainly making a fierce entrance, I think it is time to make some brownies!


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