Komboucha Chronicles: Magicking up a Mother

You don’t need a lot to make a batch of kombucha; all it takes is water, sugar, tea, and a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. What, you don’t have symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast? Don’t worry, we’re going to grow one.

It’s called a SCOBY for short, but can also be known as the Mother or the Mushroom. It is not in anyway a mushroom but a colony of bacteria and yeast that live in harmony together, eating sugar and turning it into the acids, vitamins, and enzymes that make kombucha so tasty and healthy. A scoby looks like a nasty gewy pancake:

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my home-grown 2 week old scoby

You can buy a scoby on the internet, beg one from a booch-brewing friend, or you can grow one at home from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, like me!

It’s like the “I’m gonna leave this at the back of the fridge” science experiment you always wanted to conduct as a kid but your mum would make you throw out just as your results were getting interesting. Oh, did you not attempt gross science experiments as a kid? Okay then, its like a magic trick.

What you need:

  • 1 bottle of store bought kombucha with a lot of sediment
    (you can drink the top 2/3s)  
  • water
  • organic black tea
  • white sugar
  • a mason jar, a dish cloth, a rubber band
  • a belief in magic or science (preferably both)

What you do: 

  • bring 1 cup of water to boil, remove from heat
  • add 2 tablespoons of white sugar, stir to dissolve
  • add 2 bags of organic black tea
  • remove tea bags after about 5 min
  • cool completely, pour into a clean glass jar
  • add kombucha  tea
  • cover with a cloth and seal with the rubber band
  • wait & watch as your scoby grows until 1/4 inch thick
    (between 1 and 2 weeks)

SCOBYAnd just like that, I have my very own kombucha Mother! This little scoby is going to make me a whole lot of delicious bubbly healthy goodness. All it will take is a bit more time, tea, and a plethora of microbial fermentation, oxidation, and cellulose synthesis reactions! … I mean *magic*.

mother, top and bottom

TIP: rinse your hands with distilled white vinegar when handling the Mother to keep her clean and healthy. You can rinse your jar with vinegar too.

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha Chronicles: Drinking the Fermented Tea

Our booch habit has been developing for a long time. My husband and I had our first taste at a yoga & meditation convention in Toronto over a year ago. We both enjoy a good hot yoga session now and then, but we aren’t subscribers to the holistic and spiritual aspects of the New Age lifestyle. Whatever, we had free tickets and it was something to do.

Feeling very uncomfortable with the crystals, chanting workshops, and no-touching “massages” on offer, we proceeded to eat our way through the convention, taking every free sample we could get our hands on. Hooray for food! -the great equalizer.

One sample presented was a tiny plastic cup of cold tea called Kombucha (pronounce: com-boo-cha). It was good. We politely chatted with the proprietor and learnt that it was made via a fermentation process vaguely similar to making hard cider, but that something about the microbes used meant that the resulting beverage was not alcoholic but actually full of incredible health benefits. This is when we smiled and slowly backed away.

Months later while grocery shopping, Liam spots a glass bottle near the register labelled kombucha. Feeling thirsty and slightly under the weather, my always-sticks-to-the-list-and-never-impulse-buys accountant husband actually grabs it, spends $3.99 on it, and brings it home.

We were hooked. It is delicious. It’s bubbly and not too sweet. Over time we try all the flavours and each find our favourite flavour. Sharing a bottle becomes our weekly shopping-trip treat. One week it’s on sale so we buy two bottles. It’s never on sale again but we keep buying two bottles. We start going to other stores just to find different brands and flavours of kombucha to try. After a while we notice that our digestive health has never been better, and if we skip a week things in our tummies start to go funny.

We keep saying that we have to cut back on the kombucha because it’s too expensive. But we don’t want to cut back! We want more kombucha. Maybe a small glass every morning, or a refreshing, restorative cup after a stressful day at work. We never want to drink pop again. We start inventing flavours we wish existed. We get excited when we meet anyone who has ever heard of it before and fly into high-pitched allocution about kombucha awesomeness to anyone who will listen. We are utterly and irrevocably in love. There is no going back.

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follow me on Instagram!

So here I am, the girl who rolled her eyes at the very idea of a pro-biotic elixir discovered by the Tsin dynasty and used for thousands of years, attempting to make the stuff in my kitchen. What choice do I have?

Thanks to the wonderful, cooperative, sharing nature of the New Age on-line community, the process for home-made kombucha is no secret. From all I’ve read out there it seems desperately simple and the scientist in me is incredibly excited to conduct this experiment.

So join me as I chronicle my journey from closed-minded consumer to liberated home-brew kombucha goddess. Namaste everyone.

The Ultimate Before & After {pre-sale!} Home Tour

We are moving! After almost 4 years in our first home together, we’ve decided that a big house in suburbia isn’t the lifestyle we want. We’re looking to downsize significantly and lead a lower-maintenance life. To do that, we need to sell (!) and for the last 18 months or so, all our efforts have been geared towards that goal. The hardwood floors, the bathroom makeovers, basement refinishing, all the painting and landscaping have been an endeavor to make our home more desirable.

As we were gathering the information needed to put our house on the market, I came across the original listing pictures from when we purchased. The changes we’ve made over the years are pretty remarkable and make for some very dramatic Before & Afters:

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We have certainly come a long way! Hopefully our personal touch, not to mention the hours of hard work and no small amount of money, we’ve put into the place is appreciated by potential buyers. This is a great house, and has been a fantastic home to us, we’ve just fallen out of love with it and are ready to move on to a new chapter.

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Thanks to our Realtor Sandra Monsour
And our Designer Allison Ross
for helping us get our home looking so fabulous

No Doors No Floors No Problem

Although I have not been posting at all lately (sorry) we’ve been very busy since our bathroom makeover. Busy getting new floors! Our house was a hodgepodge of irreversibly dirty carpet and three different laminate flooring (not including the laminate we installed in the basement). We decided to unify everything with quality, easy to clean, durable, beautiful, timeless hardwood floors.

Usually we like to DIY our projects but thought the installation of such an expensive product merited some professional help. We hired a contractor who is doing a fantastic job and is wonderful to work with. Still, being a hands-on type of couple (who likes to save money), we are doing all the demolition ourselves as well as giving the entire house a fresh coat of paint. We spent a very unromantic Valentine’s Day dismantling furniture, ripping out the ratty old floors, and eliminating the last of the peach walls. Ah l’amour.   IMG_3883

Over the last few weeks we’ve been living with piles of boxes, scattered furniture, bare floors, door-less closets, and worst of all; a television in the bedroom. I hate falling asleep with the TV on, and let’s face it, there are better things you can be doing in bed at night! Reading, obviously.

Liam loves it and feels like we are living in a poorly finished hotel. The cats are also enjoying the new (temporary!) set up, probably because there is much more room for them on the bed than on the couch. Even I have to admit that sometimes, after a long day of trim painting and furniture shifting, it is kind of fun to snuggle up in bed and Netflix together.   IMG_3978The project is about 30% done at the moment and we estimate it will make the house look 3000% better. But you won’t see more until it’s completely finished for the big reveal. For now enjoy these sneak-peaks of the new room colours (grey, what else?) which already make everything look so much nicer in spite of the mess. It’s not easy living with everything literally turned out and upside down, but there are moments of joy in the novelty and deep down we know it will all be totally worth it.

 

 

 

 

Happy New Bathroom

I didn’t have time to post this upon completion, as that was literally hours before our big Christmas Eve dinner party. But, by some Christmas miracle, our guest bathroom was finished in time for the Holiday, and it looks fantastic!

The hardest part of this project was cutting the bamboo counter top. None of the big box stores would do any cuts for us as they are afraid of this hardwood damaging their so-called power tools. In the end we accomplished very clean cuts using a circular saw fitted with a finishing blade (60 teeth). As with our Laundry Room counter, we taped under the cut lines to prevent splintering, this was especially important for the bamboo which splinters easily. For accuracy, we used a large plank of wood as a guide, as seen is this very helpful video.

The cuts were so true that we were able to use one of the counter pieces as a back splash, which is simply glued down with construction adhesive. All the edges and cracks are filled with clear silicon caulking, and the counter surface itself is sealed with mineral oil. I am in love with the naturally rich look of the bamboo.

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It wasn’t in the budget to replace the vanity, so all the doors and drawers got sanded down and re-finished with a cream enamel paint. It’s hard to photograph, but there is a nice sheen to the vanity now. The hardware also got replaced to help update the look.

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Installing the sink and faucet wasn’t bad; just a few trips to the store for the right pieces to upgrade the shut-off valves and the p-trap. Time will tell if everything is water-tight, but so far so good!

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The electrical stuff came together fairly easily. The pretty new light fixture is much brighter than the old one, and all the beige switches got replaced with white ones. Remember to use GFCI outlets around the sink!

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The toilet was obviously replaced, as was the wall cabinet above it. A new shower curtain covers the ugly old tile surround I wish we could replace … but as this guest shower gets used very rarely, it isn’t much of a priority.

 

Overall, we made a vast improvement over the moldy, run-down little bathroom this used to be. It is incredible what the pressure of a tight dead-line can do. And now we have a happy new bathroom for a Happy New Year!

before and after

toilet before afterSee my previous post for the shopping list for this room.

 

The 2015 Christmas Pledge {3 Step Plan}

Pledge 2015 filled

It’s that time of year again; the days are dark and cold, and no matter how much you try to ignore the relentless store displays -Christmas is coming! Stop living in denial and embrace it, November is actually the perfect time of year for shopping, decorating, and baking. Save December for building snowmen, going skating, throwing parties, and marathoning TV Christmas specials in your fuzzy slippers while drinking hot cocoa and munching on sugar cookies.

If you actually want to enjoy the lead-up to Christmas and have some fun with your family and friends, take the Christmas Pledge. It’s just three easy steps:

Step 1: Make list of all the chores that need to be done before Christmas.

Step 2: Download this blank calendar and schedule in when you will accomplish everything on your list.

Step 3: Commit to yourself to get it all done within the month of November.

That’s it! Now get to work, you have plenty of time to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year. Get all the stressful leg-work out of the way now for a December that is jolly and bright!

Some Tips:

  • Don’t wait much later than mid November to order from on-line shops, you don’t want presents arriving late! .. and you need time to wrap them.
  • The earlier you hang your lights, the warmer it will be. You don’t need to start turning them on until December.
  • While you’re out shopping for everyone else, get a few festive outfits for yourself. You know you’ll be invited to a slew of Holiday parties so you might as well save yourself from that crazed last-minuet-mall-hunt as well.
  • I find putting up the tree enjoyable and make a music and eggnog fueled event of it every December. But if you find it a chore, go ahead in get it done along with the rest of your decorating.
  • Check out my freezer-cooking plan for ideas on how to make an assortment of appetizers and cookies you can bake on demand throughout December.

Craker Jacks for Grown Ass Women {Charmed Aroma Ring Reveal}

If you don’t like watching videos .. why are you on the internet?

Just kidding! Here’s the gist of the above for all you word lovers:

Today I’d like share my excitement over Charmed Aroma candles; which are beautifully scented soy-based candles with a ring hidden inside. We are not talking about gum ball machine type rings here; these are real pieces of jewelry worth anything between $10 and $5000.

stacked candles

How fun is that!? You get a quality candle for a totally reasonable $26, with an included bonus ring (cool) which has the potential to be worth a solid chunk of change (fantastic). I think these make incredible gifts and have purchased a bunch of them for ladies on my Christmas shopping list. … surprise!

I also bought one for myself, obviously, and I am in love with ring it came with. Each ring is accompanied by a code that allows you to check its worth on-line. Mine appraised at a respectable $80.

ring on hand

The candle burned for a little over 5 hours before the wax was melted enough for me to fish out the foil and plastic packet that contained the ring. There was no wax at all on the ring before I handled it with my waxy fingers, its just shiny and pretty and perfect.

All the candles I ordered smell amazing and came well packaged in bubblewrap for shipping. Delivery did take about a month and a half though so if you are considering getting one for some one on you Christmas list, or for yourself, visit charmedaroma.com soon and place an order.

ring solo

Posting a video and/or picture of you ring reveal on social media enters you into a draw for another ring. There are no bonus entries for blog-posts unfortunately, but this video was still really fun to make!

Note: No one paid me to say any of this. This is all just my genuine unbiased excitement over stuff I think is awesome. 

Challenge: every time I say “umm” take a shot!.