the kombucha dairies

In the past several months I have developed a strong liking and inclination for kombucha. For those of you who don’t know what kombucha is, let me explain. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is cultured with a mushroom “SCOBY” and sugar. Okay, okay, I know that sounds effing nasty. Well…. I mean lots of fermented foods sound gross in theory, but then when someone produces some amazing sauerkraut, kim chi, cheese, or Worcestershire sauce it’s easy to forget the process and just enjoy the taste. Food preservation and discovery is fascinating and is what makes us as people so special and wonderful. I don’t know who first let their tea sit out for way too long and then had the nerve to drink it, but I’m glad they did. PLUS – there are quite a few health benefits from drinking Kombucha – it aids in digestion, helps detox the liver, and although no super scientific research has been done people just say it makes the body feel better. I can totally jive with all those claims, but the bottom line for me is that it’s tasty as hell.

Anyways, buying kombucha at the health food store can set you back $4 a bottle and believe me this stuff is the jam – so the cost suddenly becomes pretty obvious when you get a full blown kombucha addiction rolling. I started thinking about brewing my own especially because I have SO MUCH amazing tea from T-we Tea in San Francisco (btw the boys at T-we Tea are the most wonderful small business owners ever). So I started doing research about brewing my own kombucha….. There are many ‘how to’ and ‘101s’ online and after reading enough it was obvious the ‘fail-proof’ method for starting a successful SCOBY was to buy one. I used Kombucha Kamp as my SCOBY provider and used the kombucha mamma’s guidelines to brew my own. You can buy a ‘mother’ SCOBY for around $20 and that will yield countless gallon brews. PLUS each brew creates a new ‘baby’ SCOBY that you can transfer to a new gallon glass jar and thus yield another gallon! Straight up every brew MULTIPLIES! I bought 2 to start because – well go big or go home I guess.

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For my tea, again I used Twe-Tea. I’m an addict of theirs so it was natural to use their product. I have brewed Flailing Princess (a darjeeling with coconut and rose petals), Ooh Laa Cocolong (a jade oolong with coconut ribbons), and Guurl Grey ( sri lankan ceylon with orange peel and jasmine). All three have produced very tasty kombucha. I have also added ginger juice to several of the kombuchas after I bottled them.

My first brew experience went something like this:

1. Day 1 :Brew tea / mix as directions said – add SCOBY. Cover with normal muslin and put in kitchen cupboard. Giggle and wait.
2. Day 5 : WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE BUGS IN MY TEA?!
3. Day 5- Day 6 : Dump the maggot tea – Retained both mother SCOBYs and let ‘sit’ in small container to see if maggots had infested MOTHERS. coupled with panicked research and Kombucha horror stories.
4. Day 7 : “I spent $40 on these mother-f*cking SCOBYs and by jove I’m not gonna waste them – I don’t see any bugs/larvae – eff it! let’s do this again.’
5. Day 8 : Re-brew tea / mix as directed – add non-bug SCOBYs. Cover with super tight doubled up muslin, create ‘fruit fly trap’, put in kitchen cupboard.
6. Day 9-23 : Compulsively check kombucha brews for fruit-flies and any other abnormalities. Deep Breathes everyday as it actually was going well.
7. Day 24 : Time to taste test this….. please don’t taste like barf….. WOW DELICIOUS!
8. Day 25 : Bottle 2 gallons on Kombucha. Add ginger to 1/2 dozen jars. Start new Kombucha brews.
9. Day 25 – 40 : Enjoy my own Kombucha!

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I’ve successfully brewed and fermented two batches of two teas from my SCOBYs so far. I absolutely LOVE how my brew tastes too. I did finally get the nerve to have someone taste the tea and they said it was so great! Huzzah! Anyways – this experiment was totally worth it. Aside from the maggot hiccup on batch #1, I have the method down already. I’m thinking I’ll split my SCOBYs tonight and start 4 batches this time! Making stuff is so fun!

xxx
GFK

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Allegro Coffee Headquarters Visit!

During my trip to Denver last week I got to visit and take a tour of the Allegro Coffee Headquarters in Thornton, Colorado. It was so great! I was very familiar with their products as I have used them for years. I love their coffees, teas, and spices and over the years have tried quite a multitude of their offerings. They have a partnership with Whole Foods, so they are ‘big time’ in that they supply to Whole Foods all over the nation. That is a LOT of coffee, tea, and spices! I was incredibly impressed with their facility, the lovely cafe they have in the building, and the cheerful disposition of all the employees there.

Here are my pictures from my little tour ūüôā

lovely entrance cafe
lovely entrance cafe
bulk coffee/tea store.
bulk coffee/tea store.
coffee roaster - smelled sooo good.
coffee roaster – smelled sooo good.
massive roasting/packaging equipment
massive roasting/packaging equipment
boxing it up.
boxing it up.
all the tea ready to go!
all the tea ready to go!
standard lavern and shirley conveyer belt picture without the glove.
standard lavern and shirley conveyer belt picture without the glove.

I had such a blast and then got a GREAT chai tea latte on my way out plus 4 boxes of tea! Thanks bitesizedtwinkie for the Allegro love!

XXX
GFK

My Professional-ish Opinion

Every so often I realize that I do have a professional opinion about body, hair, and makeup products.  Obviously everyone has different hair textures, skin types/sensitivities, tones, and preferences, but these are my favorite products and/or brands that I use daily right now.

Body 

I recently became concerned about the ingredients in my body lotion.¬† The ‘largest organ’ really does soak up A LOT of chemicals and additives so it started to make me worry when I saw that even organic lotions had lots of ingredients I could not pronounce or recognize. My first solution – baby oil!
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Get Little Twig here – I’m such a sucker for packaging. (Source)

For the most part it is just mineral oil – which seriously has more uses than you could imagine.¬† Some brands have fragrance (that powder smell) other have rose/lavender or no smell at all.¬† You can buy organic, but that can be 8x the price.¬† It’s super moisturizing and if you use it after you shave it helps with any irritation.

Second (here comes a RANT) – I’ve become really interested in soap making. I haven’t taken the plunge (do you see how many damn hobbies I already have? calm down!), but I have looked at many ‘starter’ or basic soap recipes.¬† The only thing that bothers me is the use of Lye.¬† I know for a long long long long time we as humans have used Lye as as a substitute for certain sodium and potassium hydroxides safely to change the pH of things.¬† However, when I was taught about relaxers it always stuck that lye was used in the relaxing process to change the chemical structure of the hair.¬† I understand that used safely lye is completely fine.¬† BUT the worry wart in me just can’t let that go.¬† Anyone who has ever relaxed hair knows how scary it is (the speed, texture, hair integrity are all high risk factors of ruining someone’s hair).¬† To me lye is unnecessary and luckily there are a lot of people who don’t want to deal with it either since it can be unsafe to store with pets/kids.¬† So lye-free soap is in the works for me…. and I kind of want to make soap with loose tea in it like the boys at T-we Tea do.

Hair

I have been part of the Aveda ‘cult’ for five years now (time flies) and I still enjoy their products, but honestly in the humidity here in Chicago, the products are not working for me.¬† A fistful of Glossing Straightner starts out as great for my hair, but the first humid breeze and I have frizzy, poofy hair.¬† I was recommended a new line and I’m loving it for it’s anti-humid hold and Rx therapy.

Alterna is great at giving immense therapy to the hair (I’m super color treated at this point) and it just leaves the hair so soft and not frizzy. The Protein Creme and Blowout Creme are fabulous.

Also the Bamboo Line by Alterna is great for smoothing out that fussy texture I get.
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Don’t get me wrong I’m still an Aveda Fanboy, and Control Force, Pure Abundance Hair Potion, and Brilliant Humectant are always my finishers.

Makeup

I always use Aveda Foundation Рit smells like roses and actually covers really nicely.  I find it very similar to MAC Foundation in my opinion for my extremely fair skin.  It covers my uneven spots and the little dark circles I always have under my eyes from allergies (thanks Ugly Tribe!).
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Eye shadow is a mix of Urban Decay and MAC.¬† I am however IN LOVE with the new MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot.¬† It goes on smooth, stays set ALL day long, and because of the natural contours on your eye it actually looks like you’ve added one if not two additional colors for contour. I just love it.¬† I’ve received so many compliments on it since I’ve started using it also.

For lipstick – in my opinion as long as you have a good pencil liner you can use whatever brand you want as long as you know when to reapply and are prepared to add a gloss.¬† I really love the Aveda lip liner that is ‘clear’ so you can use it for any shade you want.

SHAM-WOW!

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Would any readers like any tutorials on hair/makeup tricks or tips? Let me know I wouldn’t mind doing a few how-tos if they are desired!

Renegade Craft Fair 2013

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Hello!  I was finally able to attend this wonderful craft fair that I have been online stalking for over three years!  The Renegade Craft Fair is held in summer/winter in half a dozen cities around the country and world.  Obviously, living here in Chicago I was able to be a part of this giant event by simply taking the Blue Line from my house to Division Street! (So EASY!)

First off, let’s just take a moment to reveal in the fact we live in a world where we can use our credit/debit cards everywhere and don’t need to carry cash. ¬†But, let’s also curse this technology marvel because swipe my debit card I did today. ¬†(Please don’t remind me about my budget blog at the beginning of the summer!)

Here is the general map of the fair:

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It took about an hour to walk all the vendors without stopping to buy/chat.  On round two I had a general idea of the places and things I wanted so it only took thirty minutes to do $75 worth of damage. 

Here is my loot. (Stole that from you Tannith! ūüôā )

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This tea is amazing I sampled a few and the names alone were enough to get me to want them.  Check out their other hilarious names and wonderful tea recipes at T-WE TEA.

 

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Won’t these hairpins go great with my new red do? ¬†Acute Designs has beautiful jewelry and bridal accessories at their website.¬†

 

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The hilarious cards and Dolly Parton nail decals are from Atomic Spinster – What a great name. ¬†I wouldn’t mind being an atomic spinster!¬†

 

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I thought these ‘bon-bons’ were gorgeous and then I found out they are plant seeds and pods! ¬†What a wonderful gift and idea! Check out their website for details and ideas!¬†

 

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There were A LOT of screen printers at this fair (kind of overkill for me) BUT this one had the most unique and stand-out designs. ¬†Primarily (cover your eyes if you’re not an adult) the “Eat Shit” design. HA! ¬†Look at all their Milwaukee based designs here.¬†

 

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First, the name? Horrible Adorables? It’s like the story of my life! These felt 3-D designs were gorgeous. ¬†I could buy them all and have an entire wall in my home dedicated to them. ¬†Look at all these beautiful creatures here.¬†

 

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One of the hard parts of being a crafter an sew-ist is that I saw a lot of things I could create at home and am going to try. ¬†BUT these dolls are so adorable. ¬†I just love the creativity and designs on the ‘tattooed-folk.’ ¬†Look at more dolls and ideas here.¬†

 

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The girls at Atomic Spinster had this fun portrait cut-out. ¬†I couldn’t resist. ¬†I am the unofficial fifth member of the Golden Girls. My grandma would have definitely gotten a kick out of this one!

 

So in conclusion:  RENEGADE CRAFT FAIR IS AMAZING.