February was a long month for me. I’m not really sure why it felt so long since it’s technically the shortest month in the calendar, but it seemed to go on and on and on.
The month started off strong with me taking on several fitness challenges. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep up with them and slacked off about halfway through the month. I did get my home internet situation fixed up though so I should be able to jump back in on my favorite workout video series from Bikini Body Mommy (I like the 5.0 series).
In January and again in February I put a lot of time and effort into getting my little business up and going. I was finally able to expand into making crystal bracelets! This has been a huge dream of mine for several years. I am so happy to have made that into a reality at last! View website here.
I organized my personal essential oil collection into a smaller box this month. The box I was keeping them in was too big, so they were always falling over and rolling around. I love when things are organized! I have oils from four different companies, but I’m pretty certain Plant Therapy is my favorite right now. Their quality and price are just hard to beat!
The boys and I visited a very big park that had a gorgeous pond. I didn’t really get any hiking in this month, although I was able to climb another Fire Watch tower I found that wasn’t too far from where we live. I’ve visited quite a few of the towers now. I can’t believe there was one 20 minutes from me and I never knew it!
We had a winter storm, including plenty of big wet snowflakes! The boys had a blast in the snow and we worked together to build a mini snowman too.
I took a bit of an internet break this month. I was hardly on Facebook or Instagram. I felt the need to step away from everything and refocus on some more important areas in life. During this time I was able to do more things I love like practice guitar a good bit, start a crochet blanket project for myself, color, actually read, and put more effort into in-person relationships.
Fox helped me set up the “Calming Corner” in his bedroom. It is a toolkit from Generation Mindful to help kids learn to manage emotions (anger, sadness, happy, etc) in healthy ways. He has puzzles to work on, books to read, his yoga mat, a teddy bear in the chair, coloring book with crayons, and a stress ball which are all part of the calm down suggestions chart. We are really loving this little space!
I bottled up the tinctures I had made back in January. I forgot how much the “anti-anxiety” blend of herbs helps me! I have also really been enjoying the lavender tincture. It has helped a lot with managing pain for a tooth issue I’ve been dealing with. I will have to get some more tinctures started for both of these soon!
The Redefine Yourself Project got a lot of work this month too! I felt like I had a creativity block so I googled ‘questions to get to know someone’ and found so many great ideas to make pages for this project! I haven’t spent time on all the pages yet, but I’m working through them and scheduling blog posts for each one as I go.
February was a difficult, challenging month for me. I set up a beautiful grid in my room to bring peace, love and emotional healing. I love working with crystals and arranging them into grids.
For Valentines Day I baked the boys a special Lemon Blueberry Cake, but changed a few ingredients out to make it dairy free. It was quite tasty! They were very surprised to have ‘cake’ for breakfast.
I have had several times in my life where something significant happens and I am reminded to take nothing for granted. I had a freaky thing happen with my vehicle where the throttle was stuck open while driving on the highway and the breaks were not responding. I was able to shift to neutral and get the vehicle stopped safely, but it was still quite terrifying! I am so grateful that is behind me, that it happened where it did, and that the boys were not with me, and it all ended okay. I am grateful to be healthy, to be alive, to enjoy life and motherhood. Sometimes I get frustrated, sometimes its hard, but I am grateful for everything I have, every moment with my boys.
Welcome back! If you are just finding this project, check out the First Post for the Redefine Yourself Project before getting started here.
Journal Challenge Circle Time!
Post #9: Books I Want To Read.
When your mother is a Librarian, you learn to appreciate books at a young age. Even before she was a librarian, we read quite a bit. I made many lists growing up of all the books I wanted to read. Some are faster to read than others. Books open you to a whole different world! Everyone says that, but that is because it is TRUE! Find yourself a few books to read. If you don’t know where to start, maybe take a look at this Popular 100 Books To Read Before You Die Shelf on GoodReads. Fiction or non-Fiction, there are so many books you can find something for any interests you have! I would challenge you to write down at least 5 books to work on reading in the next year. Libraries are a great place to borrow books for free -so long as you return them on time! Or you can shop the used book section on Amazon, I often pick up used books for around $5-10, shipped and then you can build your own library this way! Another option is to check and see if you have a Little Free Library near you! Trade in a book to take a new one home. P.S. They have a recommended reading list too!
If you’re on Instagram, check out the #redefineyourselfproject hastag!
Kombucha is something that took me a few tries before I ended up loving it. Storebought “booch” is a great way to test the flavor if you aren’t sure this is for you, but keep in mind, homemade is a hundred times tastier!
This is a fairly easy ferment process for beginners. The longest part is waiting the minimum of 7 days before you start the second ferment with the added flavors -if desired. I always recommend using organic ingredients, especially in the first ferment, to keep your SCOBY nice and healthy. The second ferment its not as important to always use organic, but its good to aim for all organic if you want to avoid unnecessary chemicals in your final drink.
To keep things simple, this post uses organic black tea and organic cane sugar. There are many variations you can experiment with to find something more suitible to your tastes, you can read more here.
Due to the long fermentation time, I make mine in one gallon batches. At several points in the past few years I have had 2, or more, gallons brewing at once! That was quite the little kombucha factory! If you think you want less, it is easy to use half the ingredients suggested and brew only a 1/2 gallon at a time.
Ingredients for 1 gallon brew:
1 gallon of filtered or spring water*
8 regular size organic black tea bags
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 healthy SCOBY
2 cups of starter tea
Boil your water. Add in the tea bags and turn off the stove heat. Allow to steep 10+ minutes. If you let it steep longer, you will have a stronger ‘tea’ flavor in your finished drink. I usually steep between 10-15 minutes. Add in your sugar and stir to dissolve.
Pour your cooled tea into a clean gallon container. (I reuse those big glass gallon pickle jars from the bulk food section for my process). Once it has cooled to room temperature, add in your SCOBY and starter tea. You don’t want to add this in until the tea is cooled or it could kill the cultures.
‘Top off’ your jar with more filtered , but not all the way to the top, stop just before the jar curves up to the lid. I usually give a good stir to mix everything also. Your SCOOBY will ‘dance’ in the jar for a few days and likely eventually settle at as the new SCOBY begins to form along the top of the liquid.
Cover your brew! This part is very important to keep out dust and other unwanted contaminates from the environment. I typically use a cloth napkin secured with a big rubber band. You can also use a few coffee filters together and secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. You do want it to be able to breathe, so no lids that keep air out.
Place your jar in a corner and forget about it for 7-10 days. This is the easy part, leave it alone while the new SCOBY grows and the tea ferments. If it is winter, you want to be mindful to keep the jar in a warm area. I put mine on top of my fridge this last winter. Some wrap Christmas lights around their jars too.
The minimum time for a brew is 7 days. After day 7, you can begin tasting the brew to see what point you prefer it at. I usually like it best at 10 days for the first ferment.
Bottle your finished kombucha into air tight , keeping 2 cups in your jar to start your next brew. I use mason jars with plastic screw on lids if I add fruits or flavorings to my second ferment. You can do the second ferment on the back of the counter or in the fridge. My personal preference is to add fruit and set it on the counter a day or two before I strain it out and move the jars to the fridge. Second ferment is only 1-3 days, however long you prefer. You may want to ‘burp’ jars once a day if you choose to leave them on the counter (just open the lid to let out any carbonation that has built up).
Repeat steps 1-5 for your first ferment on your next round.
There are countless flavoring options and ideas out there!
Fruit is easy to use and you can do fresh or frozen. Mash the fruit before you add it to the jar, even thaw frozen fruit to mash before adding -it’s not necessary to do this step, but does help with end flavor! Pineapple is a personal favorite of mine.
Herbal Tea: Herbal teas can be used to brew kombucha, however your SCOBY health will be affected, so be mindful you may not want to do this until you have built a ‘hotel’ of spare SCOBYS. You can make a strong brew of herbal tea to use as flavoring for your second ferment. Read more on herbal teas from Organic Kombucha.
Other types of sugar suitable for brewing kombucha by Kombucha Kamp.
Some important notes:
It is very important you do NOT use tap water with your brew. Make sure your water is filtered so there is no chlorine or other chemicals and addatives. I personally use my Berkey filter. Spring water is another great choice for brewing.
If you have any issues with your brew, check out the group Kombucha Nation on Facebook. Lots of people who can help troubleshoot any issues you may come across.
You can store your SCOBY for long periods if you keep plenty of tea with your SCOBY. I have done as long as 8 months without feeding mine and then picked back up with brewing again.
I typically drink all my jars in the same week or two they are made, you can keep them in the fridge much longer but they will continue to ferment the longer they sit, even in the fridge.
I assume if you are reading this, you have a SCOBY (also known as symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). However, if you do not, check your local farmers market, or crunchy/natural/holistic parenting group or ask in a Kombucha brewing group to see if anyone has one avaialble. Most people will mail one to you if you cover cost of shipping.