Adventures in Kombucha Brewing

 

Anyone else love kombucha? I first had some several years ago while living in Baltimore (found it at Whole Foods) and quickly grew to love the sweet/tart taste. Since then my interest in making some myself has grown. It’s not quite as common in Brisbane as it is in the US however there is a local company (Buchi Kombucha) that makes the tasty drink on a commercial scale and yet still sells at the local farmer markets. I bought my kit last weekend and started my brew on Monday.

In my kit was a glass jar containing some started culture, a SCOBY, which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, sugar, tea, and a cotton cover. By the way, who likes my attempt at adding text to a photo? Need to work on this a bit.

There’s my SCOBY! Looks like a gross gelatinous mass but it’s what causes the goodness to grow. Think of it like sourdough starter or friendship bread; get a little bit from someone else and you can make all you want.

After making what amounts to simple syrup, the tea needed to seep for 10-20 minutes. Clips are so useful in the kitchen. Not just for keeping bags closed, but also for brewing large amounts of tea.

Fill it up to the top! Ok, more like 2 inches/5cm below the top and cover with cloth to keep out dust/fruit flies/whatever.  About water: most instructions say to use spring or purified water since too much chlorine and fluoride might kill the SCOBY. As much as I didn’t want to kill this project I also didn’t want to carry this much water back from the store. A little bit of googling and I found someone that has been using tap water (from Detroit!) and getting good results. I filtered my Brisbane tap water through a Britta filter, boiled it and let it cool. Don’t put hot water on your SCOBY!

Day 1 and it was growing well!

Day 2 and it’s looking stranger and stranger!

Day 3, look at those beautiful bits.

Day 4 and the tentacles are attaching to the side of the jar.

I find myself peering into the jar several times a day; it’s neat that something is alive and growing in there. I’ve got a few more days until the first fermentation is ready to taste. And then maybe a second fermentation to get some bubbly action going on.

Anyone else have experience growing fermented foods? What’s the weirdest fermented thing you’ve ever eaten? Any suggestions for useful photoshop brush presets? Seriously had issues adding it to that photo. It helped once I got off a random adjustment layer and onto a dedicated layer.
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Over the Ocean Shawl

 

 

 

This shawl has caused me some frustration but it’s finally done and blocked.  And it was finished in time for happy hour drinks on Friday. The pattern is Over the Willamette by Jenn Wolfe Kaiser and I used Superwash Merino Lace by Tess’ Designer Yarns for most of it (I love her colors). A  tiny bit of Cascade Forrest Hills was used just for the last row as I ran out of useable yarn.

Initially there would have been enough yarn to finish this project. However, I had started a different shawl pattern with this yarn and decided I didn’t like the way it was looking and so ripped it out. And I’m sure having this yarn in storage IN A SKEIN for almost 4 years did nothing for it. Not to mention that I had to rip out rows several times because of mistakes (so frustrating when I miss stitches). Needless to say, some yarn didn’t make it. Anyhow, the Cascade blends beautifully and this project is done!

Funny photo cause I can.  This is the first pattern that I’ve actually paid money for. $4.50 USD isn’t much but usually I choose free patterns or borrow books from the library. I bought this because I saw others using multicolored yarn  and getting beautiful results. I’ll be making at least one more. But not yet. I’m done with lace for a few weeks.

 

Tuesday Tour: The Office

The day our stuff was delivered there were few things in our office. By office I mean the room formally designated as master bedroom. It has a large window that lets in a ton of bright light in the morning and perfect light in the afternoon. Perfect light for taking photographs. Made more sense to us to use it as an office than a bedroom.

 

As I was unpacking a few things made their way in there.

The next day I used some of the book boxes to “make” storage “shelves”.

Some craft and art supplies were in our shipment and I needed some way to contain it for the time being.

 

 

 

There’s too much cardboard all over the place and too many white walls.

I felt the need for some color on the walls so made some chevrons.

Currently, this is how it looks. Yep, really messy. I didn’t tidy up before shooting these photos. You know, just keeping it real. Eventually, I’d like to get better storage for all the supplies (maybe a few of these?). Or maybe do something better with the boxes. In any case this room is nowhere close to done.

If anyone is wondering, the furniture is all from IKEA. The metal wastebasket (or rubbish bin) was found in the garden section.

Someday and trying new things.

I’ve been holding on to this cross stitch kit for at least 5 or 6 years. Possibly more.

I received it for free at a craft store (in Ohio while visiting family) for buying something else. I can’t even remember what the other stuff was. This little kit has been moving around with me. From Ohio to Philly. On to Baltimore and Santa Cruz. Now it’s here in Brisbane. I even brought it on the plane in my carry on bag.

This kit has been moving city to city with me because “someday I want to try making this”. Someday.

This week I finally said enough. I opened it and read the instructions.

Someday finally happened this week. Enough with the “someday”. Why not now? What else was I doing? Browsing Pinterest? (I love Pinterest but it’s such a time suck.) I’ve never tried cross stitch before. I thought this would take lots of time to learn. This kit? Super easy. It’s actually very relaxing and almost meditative. Needle in, pull through and repeat.

I have no idea if there are “rules” for cross stitch. There probably are. But they don’t matter to me right now. I’m learning something new. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I’m almost done with the kit as I sit here writing this post. My “someday” turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. This weekend I’ll be trying something else that’s new to me. Can you believe I’ve never used Sculpey?

My balcony and flowers.

All those containers from the thrift store are being put to good use on my balcony. As flower pots. I planted directly in them (no holes were drilled for drainage so I can re-purpose them later).

The flowers seem to be fine and actually thriving. I’m surprised really. I thought they’d be dead by now.

Another thrift store score.

I needed another container, so back to the thrift store I went. And found this.

It’s quite red. As in Xmas red. But it has potential.

So I busted out the yellow spray paint.

The first coat looks not so good.

It’s getting better…

This was the second coat. It’s starting to look a tiny bit better

And after several more coats (and drying overnight)…

Several coats later and after drying overnight it looks great.

Such an improvement! I will say that it’s not perfect. But, I like the burst of color. It adds a nice pop to our balcony.

Next up, what I did with all this stuff (although I’m pretty sure you can guess).

 

 

 

 

 

Simple stamps

I had an extra wine cork or two floating around and saw a tutorial somewhere around in the blogverse about making them into stamps.  It’s pretty easy to do and doesn’t take too long to make.  A marker, x-acto knife, wine/beer cork, and cutting surface are the only supplies you’ll need to make the stamps. (Of course, some sort of pigment and surface to stamp on are also needed!)

Draw your design. Simple designs are easiest. I made a star and a heart.

Cut away the extra material.  Either inside or outside the lines. (Yes, do be careful with the sharp knife, and keep your fingers away from the edge that you’re cutting. It’s easy for the knife to slip and cut your fingers instead of cork).

cork cut from the outside of the heart

I tried to make sure that enough cork was cut away for good definition.

side view...

Stamp away! I tried some calligraphy ink, which worked ok if I used a paintbrush to apply it to the stamp.  Acrylic paint was faster and provided more intensity. I just used what I had lying around (as I’m trying to use up some of the stuff I’ve had for a long time). Have fun trying out whatever you have on hand.

heart stamp with ink (applied to stamp with paintbrush)

heart stamp with acrylic paint

star stamp with acrylic paint

As you can see, the star stamp was made by removing the cork from inside the lines, which was a bit trickier.  This left the outside as the original circle shape. Of the two, this one is my favorite. 😉