Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Making Kombucha: Supplies

What you will need:

Starter culture: This can be slightly tricky. You need to get the kombucha organism-called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from a friend or one of the many online vendors. You can also contact me for info on getting one of mine :). This will also come with a small amount of kombucha, you will need this for your first brew so don’t throw it out. If your starter culture comes in a plastic bag you are going to want to transfer it to a glass container as soon as possible.

1 Gallon Jar: I use a suntea jar. Kombucha isn’t supposed to come in contact with plastic or metal (or at least very minimal contact), Suntea jars do have plastic or metal spouts. There has been much discussion in kombucha making circles about if this is acceptable. There are of course varied opinions but there are many people who have successfully been making kombucha in suntea jars for years. Its really up to you and your preferences. 

Tea: you will need 6 tea bags. These can be green, black or white tea. Its best to use organic but in all honesty I don’t currently make mine with organic tea so again this is personal preference and what you have available. You can also use 4 bags of white, black or green and 2 bags of flavored tea, I like using 2 bags of chai tea.

Sweetener: Most people seem to use white sugar for this, you will need 1 cup. You can also use brown sugar, sucanat or rapadura. Most kombucha makers don’t recommend honey due to its antibiotic nature (it could also kill the probiotics that you want) but I have heard of people using it successfully. Very little of the sweetener should be left when your brew is complete since that is what the (good) bacteria and yeast feed on during the brew.

12 cups of water-the most pure you can get is the best.

You will need a cloth (NOT cheesecloth) or a couple coffee filters to cover your jar and two rubber bands to secure it.

That’s it! Gather these supplies and you will be ready to start your brew when I post the directions in a few days!

More on Kombucha:
About Kombucha

Coming Soon:
Making Kombucha: Directions
Kombucha Resources

Monday, August 9, 2010

My first canning attempts

I "canned" for the first time this year! It is very cool to preserve my own food! We (I had help from my husband) made salsa, spaghetti sauce and peach preserves. It was much easier than I expected.

Now I don't think I will make canning my number one method of preservation because of the nutrient loss that comes with it, but its nice to know I have that option and that there is food that will be available in an emergency. I've also read that tomatoes are actually better for you cooked so canning tomato products is still a good idea. I would love to put up some tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

My biggest complaint is the amount of sugar called for in some recipes. Seriously I don't want to put MORE sugar than fruit. I have found out I can use Pamona's Pectin and use less sugar. What I really want to figure out before I make jam or preserves again is if I can use a more natural sweetener-honey, sucanat, etc. Any ideas?

Here is my salsa:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Baking Day

So I did a HUGE baking day on Wednesday. I learned a lot and had a little success!

This baking day was all about sourdough, everything (except for one) was made of sourdough, a very healthy option!

The plan was to make tortillas, english muffins, bread, bread bites and graham crackers (these were not made with sourdough).

Here is my helper for the day all ready to go!

Building up my "sponge"

Dough rising, the first is tortilla dough the second is english muffin dough:

Loaves rising:

The results (well some of them):

So, the loaves came out too flat, I'm not sure if I didn't let them rise long enough or if they fell in the oven. They were very very dense and chewy but the flavor was good so I'm not giving up yet! The tortillas were good but they weren't quite as flexible as they need to be, they broke when folded. The bread bites were good but too dry and the graham crackers were a complete flop. Luckily for my self-esteem the english muffins were great!

I'm not giving up, this was my first try at most of this but I did learn that I do NOT want to do a huge baking day again like this. It was absolutely exhausting and clean up was brutal. From now on I will make one thing when I need it!! It was definitely a learning experience. Oh and Sydney loved it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Making my own Sourdough Starter

I successfully made my own sourdough starter!! Thanks to the Sourdough Ecourse over at GNOWFGLINS. I tried these instructions from The Fresh Loaf. Unfortunately I didn't have orange or pineapple juice, I tried using lemon but that didn't work ( I have a friend who used orange juice and had great success so go ahead and try it!). So I ended up using the instructions from GNOWFGLINS. They are great instructions but I liked the idea of only feeding it once a day.

So after several attempts I finally succeeded! Actually I almost threw out my successful batch but I decided to keep feeding it for a couple more days and finally it started getting bubbly :).

Here is my starter:

About Kombucha

I have recently discovered kombucha, and I'm loving it! What is kombucha? The short answer is "fermented tea."

Kombucha is indeed a fermented tea but it is so much more. It’s a slightly carbonated beverage that is full of probiotics and healthy yeast. It’s easy and cheap to make and very good for you!

I started drinking kombucha to replace my Dr. Pepper habit, and it worked!! I can’t say for sure if it’s improving the way I feel but I have been able to stop drinking caffeine with less withdrawal effects than I normally deal with. I would even dare to say I have noticed a slight increase in my energy and stamina.

If you know me very well in real life you know that not drinking caffeine is a BIG DEAL! Over the last month I have only had a soda once in a while and not every day (down from drinking 3-4 a day). Kombucha is a very healthy replacement drink!

My first taste of kombucha was store bought Synergy Kombucha (which you can’t currently purchase do to a question about alcohol content). Shortly after that I started brewing my own. I think the home brew is MUCH better!! If you are wondering about the alcohol content let me just say, if there was an alcohol in my home brewed kombucha I would KNOW and I’m absolutely sure there isn’t!

I get asked all the time “what does it taste like.” That is an impossible question to answer because it doesn’t taste like anything else I’ve had so it’s hard to make a comparison. Each brew tastes slightly different and you can customize it in countless different ways resulting in many different tastes.

I do want to caution you: The first few days I drank kombucha I experienced a detox effect that was quite unpleasant. Keep in mind at that time I drank way too much soda and hardly any water. The way to avoid this is by only drinking a small amount (half a glass) your first couple days and slowly increasing the amount. I now drink about 3 glasses a day with no negative effects. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water.

Are you ready to start making your own kombucha now? Watch for my upcoming posts on how to make it:

Making Kombucha: Supplies
Making Kombucha: Directions
Kombucha Resources

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eating better

I am making a huge effort to improve my families eating right now. We cut out all (well pretty much all) artificial color from our diet about a year ago, along with that went many, but not all, artificial flavors and preservatives. Well now we are going organic and focusing on whole foods while trying to eliminate processed foods. I'm learning as fast as I can (which doesn't feel like fast enough) but there are still a few hold outs. I have switched to real butter (organic if I can get it, I would buy raw if I found it), raw milk (not that easy to get), and many other things bought from farmer's markets instead of the grocery store.

One of the best resources for all of these changes is Nourishing Traditions. I haven't used many of the recipes but the information in the book and suggestions and guidelines for what to eat and what not to eat are wonderful! I highly suggest everyone own this!!

Another thing I'm doing is taking the e-courses from GNOWFGLINS.Its a wonderful course and provided on a pay-as-you-can basis. I highly suggest checking it out. She is currently offering a fundamentals e-course and a sourdough e-course. They are really great!

Learn the fundamentals of traditional 
cooking in a 14-lesson multi-media online class!Learn to cook with sourdough in an 
online, multi-media class!

I will start posting more about my adventures soon (including pictures I promise!!!).

Monday, August 2, 2010

Clumsy me...

I have suddenly become very clumsy. I have dropped (and broke) so many things the last couple months, a casserole, a bowl, a glass....I know there is more. It seems like I'm dropping something all the time!! Other than the annoyance of ruining dishes (especially when I'm trying to use less plastic, which inevitably means more glass!), it worries me because of my crawling baby. While I immediately sweep it all up I'm always afraid a sliver or two will remain and get in her knee. As a matter of fact I've had two get in my foot. I don't know what to do-except STOP dropping things!!! (Oh and I realized after I cleaned up the dropped glass that I should have taken a picture for my blog, oops!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Preserving the Bounty Challenge

I joined the Preserve the Bounty challenge at The Nourished Kitchen. Participants in the challenge will get info over the course of 5 weeks in August on traditional methods of preserving (instead of canning). The methods are sun-drying, oil curing, salt-curing, fermentation and freezing. I (as a participant) am supposed to try out each of these methods during that time. The plan is to post my experiences here :) (with pictures of course!!). Feel free to remind me!!

Why not just can stuff you ask? The short answer is that in most cases the high temperatures and/or long cooking times required for canning depletes most of the nutrients in your food. The methods above preserve the food for winter while also maintaining, or even enhancing (in the case of fermentation), the nutrients.

Want to join the challenge with me?? Click here to read about it and sign up!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cloth Diapers: How I got started

I have been asked about cloth diapering from time to time and I thought I would write a post about how I got started and some basic info. I am by no means an expert as I've only been doing this for about 6 months and have only tried a handful of brands. I will post more as I try out new diapers.

I have to say I absolutely LOVE cloth diapers!! I started out looking into them because of the financial aspect, you save a TON of money with cloth diapers, even if you choose to use the more expensive kind (which is what I use most of the time). If you choose the more expensive kind the up-front cost can be large, but you still end up saving quite a bit of money over the long term. On top of that, if you use those diapers for your next child the savings is even more significant! Don't have much money for diapers-you can get started with prefolds for about $50!!

Once I started researching cloth diapers I found out how much better they actually are for baby's bottom. Disposables are made of plastic, and as we know the "scientists" are always discovering a new dangerous chemical in plastics that we previously thought were safe. Yes even your "cloth-like" disposables are full of plastic. In addition to the plastic, disposables are full of all sorts of chemicals-that's why they can absorb so much. You know those little beads that come out and get on baby's bottom if you leave the diaper on too long? Chemicals! The chemicals are what cause most diaper rash. Now I'm not saying your baby will never have diaper rash in a cloth diaper (we are battling one right now, the only one she has had that wasn't from a disposable) but you will most certainly have LESS diaper rash in cloth.

Add to that the reusable, sustainable, "green" factor and cloth diapers were definitely worth trying out. I won't lie, the "green" factor was far from my main motivator but it is definitely a nice benefit-for us and the environment.

I bought several diapers off ebay (new), most were made by work-at-home-moms. None of my first diapers were a major brand name. I will suggest that if you buy WAHM diapers from ebay or etsy you research the maker thoroughly, there are blogs and forums that review these diapers (I'll post more resources later). The ones I bought were supposed to be all-in-ones but needed a cover, this was fine but I do prefer true all-in-ones.

When Sofia was born my only name-brand cloth diapers were two Fuzzi-Bunz I got from a friend as a baby gift. I would quickly find out that these were the only ones I owned at the time suitable for nighttime use, and that brand is still my nighttime choice (although I now have more than two!).

I didn't start cloth-diapering as soon as she was born. I intended to but I got very sick and in part forgot, in part just didn't want to deal with it so I waited until I felt better. Well a couple months later I decided I better try all these cloth diapers I bought. My first day went horrible (I tell you this to encourage you if you had an initial bad experience). Every last diaper I owned was quite discouraging. So I washed them and put them up, thinking I was giving up on cloth diapering. And there they sat for several weeks....

Eventually the frugal part of me won out and I just couldn't look at those diapers that I had spent money on not getting used and continue spending more money on the disposables. I talked to a cloth diapering friend and did some research online and figured out a few mistakes I had made. 1. I washed them in regular detergent and 2. I hadn't made sure they were snug around the legs and stomach. (I also figured out eventually that some of them just had to have a cover). Once I got these issues sorted out cloth diapering was a success and I LOVED it!!

Now, once I reached that point I wanted to try out different brands of diapers, I eventually added BumGenius all-in-ones, BumGenius organic one-size AIOs, Flip, Kissaluv (which I don't like), Fuzzi Bunz one size (in addition to my sized FB), and BumGenius one-size pocket. I also got my older daughter who still wore pull-ups at night to switch over to Happy Heinies cloth pullups! I also purchased wet bags (planet wise), changing pads (Fuzzi Bunz) and made cloth wipes (more on this later).

That is my story and now I am a "die hard" cloth diaper mom!! I have even (recently) tried the prefold-which aren't as bad as I expected. I write this post to encourage those who are interested in trying cloth diapers and to maybe get someone thinking about it who hadn't previously but it is in no way to pressure, judge, or otherwise belittle moms who do not choose to cloth diaper. This, like everything in parenting, is something that each person must decide what works for their family!!

Coming soon: Cloth Diaper lingo
                      Cloth Diaper washing and stripping
                      Cloth Diaper reviews
                      What to do about diaper rash
                      Cloth Diaper resources
                     ....and more (I'll link from here with new posts)

My absolute favorite cloth diaper store is Kelly's Closet!

Feel free to ask questions-I will probably include them in a later post!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Way To Go Syd!

Last night we got an e-mail from my daughter's gymnastics coach inviting us to be in a different class. Basically, my daughter has provisionally made the competitive team!! She is going to go to team camps all summer and the goal for her class is to be competing at level 2 in January (this is when meets actually begin), there is a small chance the girls won't be ready to compete in Jan but from what I gather they probably will and we should have an even better idea by the end of summer. Syd has been saying for over a year that she wants to be on the team, we are all very excited and proud of her. I have NO IDEA how I'm going to come up with all the $$ that competitive gymnastics require but I know it will work out one way or another :).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Enfagrow Chocolate, whose obsurd idea????

I just sent this e-mail to Enfamil because I think that its disgraceful that they are offering what amounts to fortified chocolate milk for one-year-olds. I know not everyone will agree that you shouldn't give chocolate milk to children so young but I think its a horrible start, if you agree with me I suggest you write something similar to them, maybe we can get them to pull it....children won't ask for the chocolate flavor if they don't know it exists but if they do they are very likely to refuse everything else!!!

You can see what I'm talking about here.

To whom it may concern,

I just saw that you are now making a Chocolate formula for toddlers. I'm very concerned about the fact that you are promoting giving chocolate/chocolate flavor to a child so young. Children this age should be learning to eat nutritious food not depending on a formula to make up for poor nutrition (obviously this is the parents responsibility to make sure they are eating a healthy balance diet). But even if parents think they need a formula to fill in the gaps they should not be feeding such a young child chocolate, obviously the child having something like this on a regular basis would make them more likely to ask for sweets, eat too many sweets, and refuse nutritious food when offered because they know they will get their "chocolate milk." I think giving parents this option is allowing/encouraging them to take the easy way out rather then be PARENTS and teach their children to eat well.

I have two children, one is still on infant formula the other is 4. We used formula with her until she was one and switched completely at that point to milk and nutritious meals and snacks. We never needed a supplement like this and she was never allowed to have chocolate (or strawberry or any other flavor milk) she drank regular white, whole milk, water or the occasional juice, and that is still what she drinks to this day. My child eats well willingly eating fruits and vegetables and rarely getting sweets, she will even turn down sweets she is not allowed to have. Teaching children to eat well is possible but not by offering them something like this from the beginning.

I have used your formula for both of my children (unfortunately I haven't been successful at nursing) because of your wonderful track record and company history but this makes me consider switching companies for my formula need as I just can't support parents being encouraged to give their children poor eating habits so early in life.

Sabrina Scheerer

I used their form on the website but email can be sent to: EnfamilResourceCenter@Enfa

Even if you don't/never plan to use formula if you think this is harmful please write!!!! People WILL buy it if its available and I believe WIC is allowing the Enfagrow and probably will allow this (can anyone confirm?)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, April 6, 2010

Outside my window...The sun is bright, the grass is turning green and the flowers are blooming!

I am thinking...that I wish I had the time/energy to plant flowers and a garden...well, next year :)

I am thankful for...warmer weather!

From the learning rooms...Syd is loving her new curriculum!

From the kitchen...tomorrow I'm going to make baby food!

I am creating...nothing at the moment...I should work on the bows for Syd.

I am this afternoon!

I am reading...well I have about 4 unfinished books on the coffee table :).

I am hoping...that the next 2 months go quickly!

I am hearing...the baby crying-she is fighting her nap!

Around the house...its a mess!

One of my favorite girls!

A few plans for the rest of the week: try to get the house picked up a bit....

sorry no picture this week, I'll try to have one next week!!

If you would like to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook click here for more information!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Today we remember that Jesus rose from the grave!! Remember during all the festivities to give that some thought! On Friday we observed the anniversary of His death and today we celebrate the miracle of his resurrection. Remember that He would have died for YOU alone, it is personal. His resurrection means he conquered death so that you could have eternal life-if you choose to accept it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


We have had a very busy past 6 months or so! I can't believe its already April!! (but I'm definitely NOT complaining!)

Sofia is just over 6 months old and is trying really hard to crawl. She weighed over 18lbs at her last checkup!! Unfortunately she is still not sleeping through the night :(. I just keep telling myself any day now she will!

Sydney is loving being a big sister and is a HUGE help to me. She has taken on so many chores without complaining at all and most of the time asks me what else she can do!

I haven't had time to do much else lately but take care of the girls and try to keep up with the house. We are a little over 1/4 the way through this deployment and keeping up with everything has definitely been a challenge. I feel like I'm just now starting to get to a place where I can get us back on some sort of routine/schedule and maybe start accomplishing more than the bare minimum. I have a list of things I want to accomplish during Dustin's upcoming R&R. I'm hoping that if I can't get things running smoother before that at least I can get systems in place then to help get us through the last part of this.

I'm baaaaack.....

Hello.....anyone out there....???? Hope I have some readers left!

Wow...I haven't posted in...well...FOREVER!!! Sorry about that!

Ok I'm going to try to be more disciplined and actually blog on a regular!! I really want to write I just haven't found the time or motivation lately (and I'm open to suggestions on finding the motivation). Its not that I don't have anything to say...if you know me personally you know I'm rarely short of things to say, but for some reason as soon as I sit down and open blogger I go completely BLANK!!! Ok enough excuses :).

So in my effort to post more often (or at all lol) I am going to try to create some sort of schedule for are some of my topic ideas (all based on 'adventures' I'm currently on in my own life-most of which I'm by no means an expert on): giveaways, cloth diapers, homeschool, natural household products, saving money, cooking/meal planning, household organization, kids....I'm open to other suggestions!

These might be weekly (i.e. giveaway links on monday) or every other week, or monthly, I'm just not sure yet. I will probably try to do several McLinkys and maybe some carnivals too just to get me going (if you have one you think I would like please share!!).

I will try to do reviews on products I like (not sponsored reviews just my own suggestions) in hopes that some day I'll get the opportunity to do sponsored reviews.

In all this I'm going to be revamping my blog a bit, cleaning up links etc. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions on my layout.