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31  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Homemade Soda : Ginger Beer on: September 07, 2010 02:51:46 PM
This is my first attempt at homemade soda. It's a batch of ginger beer from a recipe I found online. (I'll add a link as soon as I find it again. Here it is!) The flavor came out perfect, but I think next time I need to carbonate it a bit longer.



Here's how I made it.

1. I took a large piece of fresh ginger, about 4-5 inches long and the width of my palm, rinsed it off and left the skin on. I tossed it in the food processor and minced it pretty finely.
2. Then I put it in a large pot on the stove with 2 cups of washed raw sugar and 2 cups of distilled water and made a nice syrup out of it.
3. I let it cool and strained out the solids, added the remainder of the gallon of distilled water and the juice from one lemon. So far, I've followed the recipe pretty closely. But after tasting the mixture I decided that the ginger flavor was way too week. I like a strong ginger beer.
4. So I put everything back into the pot, brought it to a simmer and let it steep for a while. Then, I cooled it again. It took way longer this time, probably 2-3 hours.
5. Once it was cool enough (less than 110 F), I poured it into the gallon container (the one the distilled water came in) and added the juice of another lemon and 1/8 of a teaspoon of regular baking yeast.
6. Then I shook it like crazy to make sure that every bottle would have some yeast in it. Most recipes I found say to use 2 liter soda bottles, but the hubby and I can never finish one before it goes flat, so I opted to 1/2 liter water bottles. I filled them with a funnel, leaving about an inch of head space, and put the tops on tightly.



7. I put the bottles in a dark spot. The recipe says a warm dark place. It's been really warm here so I'd guess that the soda was around 80 F while it was carbonating.
8. I let it do it's thing and checked it every few hours. Probably about every 4 hours. You know it's done when you squeeze a bottle and it feels hard, like a soda bottle from the store.
9. Mine carbonated for about 24 hours. In retrospect, I think I should have left it longer but I was going to bed and I was afraid of the bottles exploding during the night. Yes, exploding! Apparently if you let them go too long, the pressure will cause the bottles to explode. Yikes! I guess glass bottles are a bad idea.
10. Once the carbonation was done, I put them in the fridge to stop the yeast.
11. Time to taste it! I poured mine into a glass and left the yeast in the bottom of the bottle. You'll be able to see it on the bottom, it looks like a bit of light colored mud.

It was surprisingly easy to make and I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. As I said before, I would like it to have a little more carbonation, but it's very drinkable the way it is. I'll definitely do it again. I wonder if I can make other flavors. Like with fruit juice? Or would it go bad. Hmmm... What do you think?
32  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / what to do with all these watermelons? on: July 31, 2010 02:48:34 PM
I have three watermelons right now on my kitchen table and every week I get another in my CSA box. They're starting to take over! But the thing is, I don't really like watermelon. Yes, I know I'm weird. But I just can't stand the texture and the favor is only just okay. Other than bringing them to every party and giving the stuff away (which I have been), how can I use it up?
33  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Some drawings on: July 27, 2010 03:23:36 PM
Here are a few drawings. The octopus is in ink and the rest are in pencil. The pencil drawings are each 8x10 and the octopus is, I think, 11x17. I'd love to hear what you think. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Kingbird for my Dad



Stilt, again for my Dad



Frogmouth for a swap



my dog



octopus

34  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions / DIY deodorant... does it work?!? on: July 19, 2010 08:18:20 PM
Hey there! Since the summer heat kicked in, I've been on a quest for the perfect deodorant. I'm looking for a deodorant that's gentle on my sensitive skin and that works. Yes, I am one of those women who really does stink without deodorant. I've tried a few natural deodorants but I've had no luck so far.

So, I'm trying out a DIY recipe to make my own! The recipe I've made contains baking soda, arrowroot powder, coconut oil and essential oil - lavender in this case. I just made it tonight. If your interested, let me know, and I'll keep you updated on how it works for me.

For those of you who have made your own deodorant, does it work for you? Do you like it? Have you found ingredients that work for you and ones that don't? I'd love to hear about it!
35  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / My patio vegetable garden + a few solutions for small spaces on: May 31, 2010 05:48:59 PM


pinokeeo's fantastic garden inspired me to share my own little garden with you all. It's really small but I think there are probably a few apartment/condo dwellers out there facing some of the same gardening challenges. I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own garden. Smiley



In pots, from left to right, I have sage, a cantaloupe I planted yesterday (as sort of an experiment), my dwarf tangerine tree and a rosemary plant. The rosemary it looking a little down in the dumps. It prefers cooler weather.



In this picture you can see my upside down tomatoes. This year we have one sun gold and one celebrity. The short green box is a worm box.



There are a couple things I really like about upside down tomatoes. They take up less space on the ground which is awesome, particularly if you have a really small patio or balcony. They also don't really get creepy crawly pests. And they don't get shaded by the fence which for my patio is a very big deal. If you're interested in how we did these, let me know and I can write more about them.



The worm box. I love this thing. I got the box a couple years ago for Christmas, but I know some people make their own. The starter worms came from a nice woman on freecycle. Basically, a worm box is like a mini compost box. You put in chopped up fruit and veggie scraps with some shredded paper and the worms turn it into garden magic in the form of castings and worm tea. The castings get dug into the soil and the "tea" (icky runoff water) gets added to the watering can and sprinkled on the plants. Again, if you want to know more about it, just let me know.



Along the fence, I have a strip of dirt about 18 inches wide. This side gets pretty much no sun and I haven't yet been able to find anything that will grow well. So we're experimenting! Cheesy There's some corn up against the fence... I'm hoping that it will grow tall enough to reach the sun. I'll let you know how it goes. In front of it are a couple little lemon balm plants. They're one of the few herbs that tolerate the shade. They smell awesome and I have high hopes for these little guys.



This fence is the sunniest spot of the whole patio. Well, this is half of the fence. The other half is in the next photo. Smiley Here I have a couple cucumber plants against the fence with some string fashioned into a make shift trellis. I did the same thing last spring with peas and it worked great! Vine type plants take full advantage of the sun on the vertical fence. In front of the cucumbers are a couple pepper plants. Yum, jalapenos!



The other half of the sunny fence. Here I have some pole beans planted against the fence and an italian parsley plant right in front of that. In this photo you can also see some of our drip system. I'm not going to lie, it was the most expensive part of our garden at around $100. But it was totally worth it. It has a timer, so we don't have to pay anyone to water when we're out of town and it's awesome not to have to hand water everyday. My hubby put it in himself and says it wasn't terribly difficult. He did our whole patio in a single afternoon and it waters everything, even the hanging tomatoes.

So there's my garden. A lot of the plants we've just put in the ground yesterday, so I'll let you know as the summer goes on how they do. If you have any comments, questions or handy tips, I would absolutely love to hear them. Smiley
36  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Recycled Pouf/Floor Cushion Thing on: May 26, 2010 02:35:53 AM
I've been wanting some poufs for my living room only just forever. I love the look of these Urchin Poufs and this diy pattern is fantastic, but I decided not to spend anything on this project. So in a fit of stash busting and recycling, I made some tee shirt yarn (and a tutorial) and I grabbed a ton of old clothes and scraps for stuffing and I made myself a nice crocheted pouf. I'm usually more of a knitter, but this yarn is a bear to knit with - I broke 2 sets of circulars on a bath mat a couple years ago.



So anyway, here's my pouf. Along with my lovely assistant. Smiley He worms his way into all my photos these days.



The finished pouf is about 8 inches tall and 21 inches in diameter. I used a size K crochet hook. To fill it, I lined it with an old sheet and filled it with lots and lots of fabric scraps and some old knit swatches.
37  COOKING / Dessert / Butternut Ice Cream on: May 12, 2010 09:37:28 PM


I subscribe to a CSA and I am head over heels in love with it... except for one little thing. The butternut squash. I've really tried to like it, and it's okay baked into muffins, but for the most part I just can not stand butternut. It must be a bumper year for butternuts because I have a stock pile of them collecting in my kitchen. It was completely out of hand, so on a quest to use the squash, I came across a fantastic food blog - Not Eating Out In New York. If you like food blogs, I highly recommend you check this one out. I am smitten. I love the recipes, the DIY attitude and the farm postings. Her ice cream recipes in particular look amazing. I can't wait to try the chai tea ice cream.



So, armed with my ice cream maker and butternut puree from my freezer, I set about to make this recipe for Rum Butternut Ice Cream, minus the rum. (We were out and I didn't feel like making a trip to the store for a single teaspoon of rum.) Other than omitting the rum, I only changed a couple things from the original recipe. I strained the custard mixture to remove any lumps and chilled it in the fridge over night before putting it into the ice cream maker. It came out amazingly well. It tasted just like smooth, frosty pumpkin pie topped with lots of whipped cream. The only thing I will do differently next time is to cut down on the amount of white sugar. The butternut has a lot of natural sugars already and I prefer ice cream that isn't super sweet. But over all, it really is excellent ice cream and I'm thrilled that I've added a winter squash recipe to my arsenal.

*ps. I copied this from my new blog, so it's a little wordy. Sorry! Let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to answer them. Smiley
38  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Handspun Scarflet on: January 19, 2010 11:52:09 PM
In the fall I made my very first handspun yarn. Yay for me! Grin I knit it up into a little scarflet thingy and I just finished blocking it. What do you think?





It's a little stiff and the yarn is a little bulky, but I don't think I did too bad for the first time. Smiley

And here's a pic of my yarn.

39  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Winter Projects - '09 on: January 08, 2010 12:18:28 AM
Here's a few knits from November and December of 09.

1. Chullo for my sister's birthday.



2. Hat and Scarf - Christmas gift for my Mom


3. Scarf/Hoodie - Christmas gift for my sister.


4. Man Booties for my hubbers



5. Socks for me!

40  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / upholstery question on: October 25, 2009 11:49:08 AM
I have a couple office chairs I plan to cover with some ikea fabric.  Do I need to (or should I) wash the fabric first?
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