Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I brewed my first kombucha

I have procrastinated for a week in attempting my first kombucha brew.  This is pretty intimidating!!!  I don’t want to mess something up and kill my scoby!!  I needed to know for sure how to do this…

My dear friend gave me excellent instructions…but because I wanted to be extra careful, I did some more research, just to know without a doubt.  I checked some videos on youtube…my absolute go to for any and all demonstrations!

I learned something in each video:
This video taught me to vinegar wash all pots/utensils…this couple is so cute, they were just fun to watch!

This guy taught me about the 2 gallon jar at Walmart…sure enough, they had the same exact jar!

This guy confused me about the teas…you mean my plain ole Lipton tea isn’t good enough?!

This girl’s video is just simple…I totally subscribe to the KISS principle (keep it simple silly)…did you think I meant smooches?!

So, after watching all these videos I figured I could do this and would just take it one step at a time.
1. Purchase glass jar
2. Vinegar wash all pots, jars and utensils
3. Boil some water
4. Add tea bags…ok, I’m just gonna use my Lipton teabags…may not be the best but I figure perfection doesn’t have to be my goal in this first try…man, that’s total growth for me!
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Note: I think I over did the tea bags…I added like 10 to 1.5 gallons!!!  Egads!!!

5. Allow bags to steep – I allowed the bags to steep for an hour
6. Fish bags out
7. Realize there are some kitchen helpers and give them some lovin
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8. Wash hands
9. Add sugar
10. Allow tea to cool to room temperature – I actually forgot to add the sugar until this step…the tea had almost cooled…luckily I remembered the sugar now!
11. Pour tea into jar
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12. Remove scoby from jar and add to tea -  To do this: say a prayer…research if you can use latex gloves to handle the scoby…find out you have to use non -latex gloves…search inventory of latex gloves (yes, I have numerous boxes) only to discover I don’t have any non-latex gloves…freak out…contemplate a midnight run to Walmart…look in the mirror and realize between my pjs and tshirt, no makeup, no contacts,  hair wild and crazy and bunny slippers that I will end up on people of Walmart website…decide against late night trip for non-latex gloves…return to kitchen to stare at scoby…sych myself up I can do this…wash hands with vinegar…open the jar…decide I cannot do this…close jar…walk away and play Candy Crush until I have no more lives…sigh…return to kitchen…open jar…ponder the pour technique…what would it hurt to pour it in?!…decide against pour technique…in all the videos and articles no one else did this…maybe it will harm the scoby…no harming the scoby allowed!…sigh…open jar…squeeze eyes shut…make stink face…reach in…realize I didn’t get my hand in the jar…open one eye only slightly to get hand in jar but then shut it and resume stink face…grab scoby…slimy…gooey…yucky…use lightening flash reflexes to transfer scoby to new tea…I was so fast I would have impressed the Flash!!…drop scoby into new tea…freak out and have a shiver run down my spine…run to the sink to wash my hands for 23 minutes…sink onto the kitchen stool and stare at scoby in new tea…shiver down my spine again…

That wasn’t so bad…

13. Pour remains of scoby juice into new tea.
14. Add 1/4 cup vinegar…I read this helps with ph and prevents bad bacteria from forming.
15. Add lid of jar…some recommend cheese cloth or something breathable…I may get some when I get the non-latex gloves
16. Label jar with today’s date
17. Reward myself with some diet ginger ale…I earned this drink! lol

I cannot wait to try my kombucha!!  I believe it is drinkable in 3 days but better about 7 days…as time transpires the scoby will eat all the sugar and the tea will be come carbinated and slightly more sour/vinegary.

Oh…and the mother will have a baby!!!  Aww!!! :)

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Today I colored Easter Eggs…using whipped cream

Happy Easter!! 

Seeing as it’s Easter, we are all obligated to boil some white eggs and color them.  It’s Tradition!! (Fiddler on the Roof)  It’s like gifts at Christmas, singing the Star Stangled Banner on 4th of July, getting down with a super, jumbo margarita on Cinco de Mayo or having tea and cumpets for the season opener of Downton Abbey…It’s Tradition!!

You can get the prepared kit where you have boats of color and teeter the egg on a paper clip size wire dipper and inevitably lose the eggs’ balance and end up with purple colored counter tops.  Or, you could do the Paas plastic egg wrap kit where a scene of the Easter Bunny skipping through field with a basket full of Easter eggs is shrink wrapped onto the boiled egg…there is so much wrong with this! It would take me hours to explain…so let me start: the end result is either wrinkled, crooked or puckered, we are putting heated plastic on our eggs?!, they are hard as heck to eat afterwards…and probably the worse offense: boring!!!

Lets take this egg dyeing up a notch!! 

I saw this idea egg dyeing method on pinterest, facebook or somewhere, saying to use shaving cream to create a marblized dye look.

Shaving cream?!  Yuck!!  I don’t want to eat shaving cream coated eggs!!! 

Surly I could come up with something better!

And I did!

What’s dense like shaving cream and edible?!  Whip cream! 

Beware awesome peeps…genius brains working here!

So, here’s the run down…start with Cool Whip (or generic tubbed whip cream)…I chose name brand based on the science that the whip usually doesn’t seperate…and I had a coupon.

Next up, use a drop of each color in seperate sections within the cream and swirl.  Then, take your egg and swirl it in the colorful swirl.  You can also take this opportunity to revist your kindergarten days and finger paint the egg using the mixture…no worries, I won’t tell.
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Once you have the egg coated the coloring you like, set it aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the color to set.  While you wait, this is an excellent opportunity to revisit your Easter Basket and chow down on some more of that chocolate Easter Bunny (78% of us will start at the ears), inhale some jelly beans (I’ll trade you my pink ones for your blacks!) or eat half of the chocolate covered buttercream egg…if you were lucky enough to get one…obviously I forgot to leave carrots out last night and the Easter Bunny forgot to leave me my egg…
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Anyhoo, now take a paper towel and wipe off the colorful cream to reveal a cooly dyed egg.  At this point, you can leave as is or you can redrip until it becomes Easter Art. 
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Repeat 11 more times for a completely colorful dozen!
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Sorry for the blurry picture…the sugar rush had set in at this point.

Happy Easter awesome peeps!!  Matthew 28:1-10

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Today I went to the Farmer’s Market

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I apologize for the bad photo!  It was freezing outside!!

Someone woke old man winter from a nap and (just like any of us awoken from a great sleep) he came up swinging with a cold blast!  In our area, we went from 70s to 40s in the matter of hours and it’s going to take days to get back to reasonable weather.   So probably this wasn’t the best day to hit the Farmer’s Market…

I started in the organic grocery store.  I’m determined to really comprehend the organic grocery store!  And I don’t know why I just can’t “get it”!  So far, I totally get local honey…check, got that!  Oh, but wait…this store has orange blossom, wild rose, thistle and other honeys!!  My.mind.is.blown!!

My problem is: I recognize ingredients that I have seen listed in recipes, things I know you can only get there, but when I’m face to face with it on the shelf (and the price), I suddenly draw a blank as to what to use it for.  And since I’m unsure, I move on.

I headed on over to the frozen food case to check out the meat.  I’ve read a bunch about grass fed, organic meats and really want to make the change.  I peered in through the cold glass door.  They had various beef cuts…unfortunately the only one I recognized was beef stew…at $11/lb!  Hmmm…well, let’s check out chicken…chicken isn’t complicated…oh.my.golly!!  Chicken breast at $9/lb!

Well, maybe I’ll just go vegetarian…

As such, on to the veggie stands!

I had envisioned many stands overflowing with colorful fruit and vegetables.  Unfortunately, (probably because of the weather) many stands were closed and empty.   I did find one open but the poor lady was in her car, staying warm until I showed up.  I found some sweet green onions and stumbled upon some ginger at a great price!  At least I made braving the cold worth her while!

There were various gift shops but I opted not to go in to them.  I’m trying to keep my trinket buying to a minimum.

I popped into a bakery and ice cream shop…but smelled lethally good and I vacated before I gained a pound or worse…bought something.

Overall, I enjoyed just strolling through the Farmer’s Market…I cannot wait to return when the stands are in full swing :)

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Today I tried kombucha

I’ve heard a lot about kombucha…tons of health benefits, great tasting, a do it yourself kitchen creation, and carbinated natural alternative to sodas!

I pondered buying some when I went to the natural grocery store but I had an eye problem that day…I couldn’t see spending $5 for a one serving bottle of tea.

I’ve tried to give up sodas…after a while I feel better and less like a Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Float (or in simple terms: bloated) but inevitably I go back because I need alittle extra flavor in my drink. And I like how the bubbles tickle my nose! lol

When I posted about the apple cider vinegar and honey tonic, my dear friend at Cheerful Chicken Farm offered to give me one of her scobys. Since I had read so much about kombucha, I had looked into buying one but again my eye problem got in the way. I couldn’t see paying $10-30 for a scoby from a questionable source. So, when she offered me one, I jumped on it :)

I finally had the chance today to visit the farm and she let me try some kombucha from the scoby she was giving me. I was so excited, I failed to get a picture….maybe I’ll reinact one later.

One sip and I was hooked. To me, it tasted like sweet tea with a slight fizziness and just a tad vinegary taste, but not too much. I loved it! I tried to lady like sip it through out my visit but I couldn’t help myself….I downed it! And to know it was good for me…I mean, how often do you find something that tastes good and is good for you?!

In my research, I have found that kombucha:
* detoxifies the body
* helps with digestion using probiotics
* aids joints and releives arthritis
* boosts your immunity
* makes you look like Sophia Vergara

All that packed in a tea! Can you say ah-mazing?!  Actually, we should say tea-riffic!

My dear friend gave me the instructions and sent me home with my very own kombucha…you would have thought she gave me my first born! I made sure to secure it tightly in the truck…I almost buckled the jar in but instead wedged it between some yarn I had packed for the ride.

A can predict a future something new will be brewing my first batch of kombucha…stay tuned! :)
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Today I speed cut a watermelon

Watermelons have debuted at Walmart!
I know…I know…one should be skeptical of watermelons so early but when you I have lived without one for 196 days how bad could a watermelon be?

I’m willing to chance it!

I saw an absolutley cool and fast way to cut a watermelon late last year…like 198 days ago…but unfortunately I had already cut my last watermelon of the season and couldn’t try the technique out.

And let me tell you, I need a better technique!  It takes me about 30 mins with my present retard method: cut melon in half, scramble to not lose one of the halves over the counter, cut a slice, cut in half, cut off rind, cube the watermelon innards, rinse and repeat until the melon is just cube goodness!  So yes…new method totally needed!

Speed watermelon cutting: cut alittle off both ends, place melon on end, cut rind from top to bottom, then trim up to remove any white rind missed, then slice rounds and cube the yumminess!
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Oooo…doesn’t it look kinda wierd? Like naked or something?!

Anyhoo, new method totally rocks!  Super fast, super easy, super awesome!

(And yes, the farmer totally cheated this watermelon from its maturity.  It has a grainy,  mushy texture and only a little good red pieces…but nonetheless…I’m in watermelon heaven!!)
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Today I watched The Guild

I was cooking supper and heard from the living room “It’s gone!  He deleted my character…2 years of my life, my gold, my reputation points…I don’t exist anymore!!”

Gosh…I feel like I’ve said that before…flashes of my Pirates of the Burning Seas days (the only MMORPG I have ever played) and our Gosport Naval guild played in my head…Port battles at 2 am, leveling up to buy an ubber ship, sailing for 4 hours from Bartica to Tampa for limestone just to avoid red zones…good times… But what’s that gotta do with the TV show?!

I had to ask..
Me: “Hubbie, watchya watching?!”

Hubbie: “The Guild”

Me: “Oh…I’ve never heard of it…what’s it about?”

Hubbie: “A guild.”

….no, really?!

I pondered throwing the kitchen towel at him but honestly, if I were in his Crocs, I probably would have egged him too.

Hubbie was already into Season 2 and I’m a stickler for watching things in order.  I tried to convince him to start at the beginning…and by convincing, I mean sayin pretty please and batting my eyelashes…

Nope, didn’t work.

I was about to bring out the big guns… but the next thing I know Wil Wheaton is on the screen!

Wil Wheaton!!

oh…well…what’s the biggie about what happened in Season 1 and half of Season 2?!

So, I settled in to watch The Guild, an internet show spoofing the life and game play of a guild.  I loved it!!  If you’ve ever played an online multiplayer game, are an awesome nerd, or Wil Wheaton groupie you have to watch it!
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Today I decided to do a Pay It Forward project

While scrolling through Facebook, a dear friend had the following post on her page:

To start this year off in a loving way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative: The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year- anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer in their FB status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile, (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness. Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love filled year….”

I read it and thought that is absolutely, totally, completely, really cool!  I responded to her post declaring “I’m in!” and added my smiley face…certainly because this is a smiley face worthy statement!

Then, I beebopped over to my page and pasted the message as well.

I don’t know if y’all have noticed but my posts haven’t been as on time nor spunky as they usually are. Unfortunately, several challenges cropped up in my life which distracted me.  I realized my problems were consuming me, stealing my joy, and overall keeping me in the dumps.  But, do you know the best way to beat those pesky problem monsters?!

Focus on others!!  That’s right…there is no better way to get over yourself than to focus on someone else.  So, this project came at the perfect time for me : )

I cannot wait to see how many respond to my post…I may just surprise them all!! : )

You are welcome to like my Try Something New Everyday Facebook page and participate in this project too!

I’ll keep you posted!

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Today I celebrated Tabletop Game day!

Last year Geek and Sundry (youtube stars) asked their fans to gather in public on March 30 to play tabletop games.  Wiki summed it best so I will just use their words: “Aiming to remind its fans and community to spend more time and strengthen their bonds, by playing games together. Tabletop gaming promotes many positive social and cognitive benefits like increased communication, team work, planning, and is an excellent stress relieving activity for all ages.”

So April 5th was declared as the 2nd Annual International Tabletop Game Day.  However, this would be my 1st Annual International Tabletop Game Day celebration.  A group of friends and I decided to gather in a public place to play some games.

Now, where to play?  The local game shop was always an option however could you imagine the game shop on such a holiday?!  It would be like the card shop on Valentine’s Day, Walmart on Black Friday and free puppy sale at the pet shop…all at once.  But of course nicer cause all gamers are nice…until you beat them and then, well, you’re taking your life into your own hands…and understandably so.

We flirted with a few options.  We needed a place that had chairs and a good size table.  We thought of a park, library, food court at the mall…my favorite idea was to set up in the patio section of Home Depot.  Just imagine!   Cushy, comfy chairs…nice size tables…plenty of passersbys…I’d be like, I’ll fight your level 18 monster…after a 5 minute siesta!

But as golden as that idea was, we all thought Barnes and Noble was the most ideal.  Who can beat being surrounded by books and within an arms reach of a Starbuck Coffee Frappuccino?!

We decided to play Pandemic.   I love this game!!!  Instead of player vs player, in this game we all work together to fight the diseases spreading across the globe.  I drew the quarantine specialist which meant the diseases could not spread in the city I was in nor the connecting cities.  You will be releived to find out, I held many diseases at bay in Asia and we cured all 5 diseases and only incurred 2 outbreaks. 

You can rest easier tonight, we got this.
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That’s my almost completely depleted Coffee Frappuccino with sugar free caramel syrup that you may think is at the point of being thrown away but be rest assured I’m gonna loudly slurp and wiggle the straw to get every last delicious drop!

That game played for a about an hour or two…when you are fighting epidemic level infections, time seems irrelevant.

Next up, Munchkin!  I’d never played Munchkin before (hey! 2 something news!!!) but love the humerous cards!  Even though I had great instructions and plenty of assistance,  I still felt a little lost…like I was banging my head against a door only to find horribly cute monsters who wanted to steal my levels.  But I enjoyed it and am ready to go monster and treasure hunting again!! :)

2nd International Tabletop Game Day was fun!!  I really anticipated either receiving more strange looks or passersbys stopping to ask questions or join in.  I would have loved to suck non gamers in and show them how much fun they are missing out on!

At any rate, the planning for next year’s celebration is already in the works : )

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Today I took a selfie

They are everywhere…

Everyone is talking about it…

There is even now a song about it…

On the way to work this morning I pondered what today’s something new was going to be.  The DJ announced on the radio “Up next, the song of the hour!  Selfie!!”

Hmmm….Let me take a selfie….

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Happy April Fools Day!!

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Today I tried Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar

A few months back, when I went to the acupuncturist, he recommended I try a honey and apple cider vinegar mixture…he called it a tonic…when I hear tonic, I think tonic water and immediately cringe.

Of course, I said I would try it…but didn’t.

Then the other day a friend told me how she uses it everyday and suggested I give it a try.

Of course, I said I would…but hadn’t.

But today I needed an afternoon pick me up and figured some honey might get my wings a buzzing :) Then the two recommendations replayed in my head…hmmm…

Have you ever chugged natural apple cider vinegar? Woo-wee…it’s strong…it will make your toes curl, lips pucker, and eyeballs water…in that order. Before I obliterate my really good local honey I needed to know this “tonic’s” benefit.

Let’s Yahoo!

One website said it helps to prevent indigestion. I hadn’t planned a pepperoni pizza in my near future so no need for that.

Another site provided a whole list of ailments it releives…arthritis, bad breath, brittle nails, ingrown toe nails, bad judgement in men and aversions to broccoli. Ok, some of them weren’t actually listed but I’m sure it was just an oversight.

The last website I’ll mention said the elixir would ease colitis, tickly coughs, and boils (yuck!). Oh thank goodness! My life is complete…I’ve learned something new…I am now armed with how to cure boils!

Well, obviously this little mixture packs some healing power so I’ll try it…

No, for real…I really will try it this time.

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I put one tablespoon of each in a glass and mixed with a spoon. Ok, I confess…this picture was my second attempt at mixing it. The first time I put the honey in first and had a hard time coaxing the honey from the side of the glass…learn from my ignorance: start with the vinegar first.

Alright…once I mixed it up it was time to drink it…

Ok…I’m gonna drink it now…

I put the glass up to take a sip and the vinegar smell punched my nose!  Ack!!…give me a minute..

Ok…nose is now prepared…1…2…3…CHUG!

The honey did take some of the bite from the vinegar but my cheeks still puckered and eyes watered. You taste the vinegar first but the honey follows and soothes the sourness.

Overall, not bad…I would do it again…it may be too early to note any health benefits but I do feel world peace coming.

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