Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My review of Pilgrim Collection Teo Aroma Diffuser

Ok, so bear with me, this is my first review blog post.  I agreed to do this blog post as a condition in getting it at a discount to review, and it is so fabulous, I just had to........This is just beautiful on the listing, and did not disappoint in person!

First, I am going to st
art off by saying it is designed in Belgium......Man, do them Belgians know how to make a beautiful diffuser!!

Upon reading on this the top of this diffuser, turns out it is HANDMADE!!  Crazy, huh?  Someone had their hands on this and made it gorgeous!  I'd like to take up ceramics one day, but I doubt I could make something like this that is so uniform it looks bought, or stamped.......
but, squirrel, apparently.....lol
(The bottom of it is made form Beech Wood)

This diffuser has so many different features it is just crazy.  It has an autostop function, where when the water is gone, the power goes off.  (Most do this, but still a function that is necessary)  It has a timer and runs about 5-6 hours on continuous.   It has a 110 ml tank, and really looks beautiful on.  The stream comes out the top, and is very easy to add to, or adjust.

The buttons look nice, and are pretty easy to understand the function of.  The lighting is completely adjustable.  From a nice warm yellow/ivory light, to a meditation light where it pulses, to off - just in case you decide you can't live without it at bedtime, you can turn off the light.

So, overall, this is very beautiful, and makes a very beautiful addition to your home.  I am betting that no matter what your style or how you decorate, you can find a place for this beautiful diffuser!

I really hope I didn't just embarrass myself with my first review post!  Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Mother Made Me Do It: The Birth of a Quilter

I lost my mom on February 27,2015.  It was extremely sudden.  We talked on the phone every night.  Literally every night.  For like 2 hours.  We spoke on the 26th for our normal phone call, and she was fine.  She was perfectly fine.  She wasn't even ill.  Everything was so normal.

Until I got the worst phone call of my life the next morning.  Her nurse had discovered her.  It was devastating.  It was ruled natural causes.  Apparently it was her heart.

So we (my 3 sisters and I) started to make our way to where she was.
  She lived out of town a ways.  We were in charge of not only planning this unexpected event, but also emptying her apartment.  We had four days.  Total.  So, we bucked up as best we could, and went to work.  It was getting dressed for 'Family Hour', and going and packing before and after.  We worked rather well in dividing it all.  I naturally got her buckets of fabric and anything crafty.  I am the only one that sewed.  So, in hazardous conditions we made our way back.
Worst. Four. Days. Of my Life.  Words cannot describe it.

About a month later, it was starting to get warmer, and my husband wanted to clean out the garage.  All Mom's stuff was in there.  I wasn't ready.  So we moved the boxes around inside the house.  There were two plastic tubs full of fabric, and I didn't really figure there would be anything that would trigger me in fabric, so I kinda sifted through.  A lot of it I gave her.  Then I saw it.  I couldn't have been more wrong about no triggers though.  I found a Walmart sack, and opened it.  I found quilt tops in it.  I found one finished, and one in squares.  We didn't even know she quilted.  Well, we bought her the stuff, but she'd only ever made a tiny one for my daughter.  That's it.  But I knew she did these, they had her sheets in them.  She had cut up several sheets that I recognized and had seen for years.
Right away, I just broke down.  I didn't know what to do, or why I was even digging in that box.  But I had.  I wanted to tell someone, but the one I talked to about everything was newly gone.  My husband comforted me.

After staring at them and holding them for several days, I felt I needed to finish them.   I think she knew I would.   I did sew.  I had never done much by hand, but that is how she would've done them.  I pretty much went to the store, bought some material I thought matched, and came home.  I also purchased cotton batting.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I did what I had kind of figured out from my grandma, and watching TV.  I laid out the backing, and laid out the batting, and threw the top on top.  ( I put the squares together for this one).  I used every pin in my house.....yes, straight pins.  I got it sandwiched.  I had talked to my mom about quilting before, and knew you started in the middle and such.  Well, then I couldn't do anything......So I found a picture and had my husband make me a frame.

It took around a day and a half to come up with plans, to done.  He is amazing.  He helped me put a quilt on it that I had from my aunt, and I liked it.  Worked fabulously.....

I got my freshly sandwiched quilt and had my husband help me to put it on the frame.  We got it to the center, and now, it seems, became the hard part.  I looked up some videos and tried, but apparently this is something that looks quite easy, but is not.

I looked and found my granny's thimble, and found some various needles, and went to it!  I got started on the first square, and I was about to cry.  It looked terrible.  I just sat and cried.  It was too much.
 So I turned to the only thing I could think of 
for advice......Facebook.

I went to a Quilting page, and posted it with a very down-on- myself message, and was just hoping for someone to give me some useful words of wisdom.  Just something.  

Then.....something very astonishing happened.  They were nice.  They were encouraging.  They were so helpful.  So supportive.  There were so many comments.  Then I met Wendy Gontier.  She commented that she would be happy to help, encourage, and talk if I would like.  A quilting veteran of over 20 years.  She was an angel.  Telling me my stitches were fine.  I was doing really well.  Words I really needed to hear.

She walked me through it.  Every step.   She advised me on needles, and thread, and all the other things that 'normal non-quilters' don't know.

It seemed that with as much trepidation as I started it, it was now zooming by at an impressive rate.   My angel (Wendy) and I were talking every day.  She was wanting pictures, and celebrating with me.                                       I was sitting down stitching nearly every day.  It made me feel closer to Mom.  I felt like she was right there with me.  I was touching things she touched and put time into.  Besides, both my grandmothers, and my mother and several women in my family quilted.  It was a family tradition.......and quickly becoming an addiction.
So, now this is the fun part.  I finished the top.  I was happy dancing.   This was kind of the point at which we realized that I needed to put a border on it.  So I was going to have to try to attach a border after the top was finished.  I kinda got the order wrong.   So between Wendy and my husband we figured out a border.   Then I had to figure out how to stitch the border. 
Once again, Wendy helped me have the confidence to design this myself.  She gave me some ideas, and I took off.  I doodled some, and finally figured out my design late one night.

I had also figured out what I would do with this quilt.  I figured I would give it to my oldest sister.  I knew she would cherish it, and I knew she needed it.  We were all taking things very hard.  This might become a source of sunshine for her to see.  That thought made me smile.

Wendy held my hand and walked me through the whole process.  Showing me how to with videos and Skype.  She was amazing.  Who knew losing my mother, my best friend, and finding a stranger that wound up being an angel could happen with the same object.  If I had not lost my mom, I wouldn't have started quilting.  But because I did, I met Wendy, who through craft of quilting helped me grieve.

I am still grieving, not sure that is going to end, but I am also still quilting.  I turned the other quilt top into three.  One for my other two sisters and myself.  And, with Wendy's help, am doing tops and whole quilts on my own.  So, therapy turned addiction......it's a little backwards, but I'll take it.                                                                                                                                         This is for you mom.                                                                         I love you.                                                                  Always.                             

Please go see the other beautiful quilts!
Thank you Amy for my first chance at showing mine off!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kombucha Recipe

So you start off your Kombucha with organic black tea.  I use Newman's Own Royal Black tea.  You can find it in the family size bags or individual bags.  I use the family size and it takes 4 per gallon.  Since my jars are 2 gallons, I use 8 bags per pot.
After I dump my steeped tea into the pitcher I am making the tea in, I fill the pan back up with cold RO and squeeze out the extra tea that is still left in the bag.  You have to be careful doing this, because if a bag ruptures then it gets messy quick!!  SIDENOTE:  It is very important that you use RO water.  Tap water and many bottled waters have fluoride and chlorine in them.  This can be damaging to the mother.

Now I add the sugar.   2 cups of sugar per gallon of kombucha you are making.  The yeast pretty much eats it all, but I recommend you buy pure cane sugar at the least, because the other is GMO, and I don't want none of that near my Kombucha!!
 At this point I fill the pitcher with RO water.  I normally don't fill it all the way, because even though I am pouring it into a 2 gallon jar, I want to leave plenty of room for the mother and reserve Kombucha.
 This is my Kombucha that I am bottling today.  Yes, I brew 8 gallons at a time!!
I then switch my attention to my already fermented 5-7 day old Kombucha.  You can see in the pictures that I used hand towels to cover my Kombucha, but I no longer do.  I use a square piece of muslin fabric, and use a piece of elastic tied as a rubber band.  (I couldn't find a rubber band big enough to fit around the mouth of the jar.
I pull the mother out of my Kombucha along with 2 cups per gallon of Kombucha I intend on making.  I would suggest you use a glass or ceramic baking dish for this, as I have heard they should not be exposed to plastic, as it leaches when exposed to the types of acids that are naturally occurring in Kombucha.
Here is the 2 cups of Kombucha that I pulled from mine to add into the new Kombucha.  I recommend 2 cups because although you can use less to ferment using 2 cups tends to keep the flavor pretty consistent.  I also tend to try and get all the brown slimy stuff that floats at the top in my reserve.  I don't know that this matters, but I have always done this.
I then take the remainder of the Kombucha that is left in the jar (excluding the mother and reserve) and pour it into a salt bucket that we have.  I know I said don't use plastic, but the mother is not directly exposed to this and it doesn't stay in it for long.  Besides this is the only container big enough for me to dump 4 gallons into.  I like to mix up as much as possible together to keep the flavor very consistent.
This is what is left in my jar when the Kombucha is poured out.  I rinse this out in my sink before I put the new Kombucha in, because at first we didn't, and this led to a severe yeast buildup.  It made our finished product very explosive!!
 With a fresh clean pitcher, I now pour the tea I made previously into the jar. 
After I poured the tea into the jar, (make sure it is no hotter than room temperature) I add the mother.
Then I add the reserve to the Kombucha on top of the mother.  It is just really hard to pour the reserve if the mother is still in the casserole dish.
Then I use my little RO spicket and fill the jars up with water.  The spicket is pretty highly charged, so it sprays fast, and mixes as it goes in.  I do always tuck the hose around the side of the mother, and not just put fresh water on top of her.
Then I cover with a piece of muslin (ignore the towel in the picture).  This is of course my elastic strip around the mouth.  It is now ready to go back in the pantry for 5-7 more days.
This is again my trusty salt bucket.  I have added in the pureed strawberries.  I use 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries per gallon.  We like this flavor best.  We have experimented with peach, pineapple, raspberry, and blueberry.  The peach really depends on whether you get good peaches, the pineapple was fairly tasty, but my hubby didn't care for it, the raspberry was waaaayyyy too tart, and the blueberry wasn't good at all.  It had a coating effect in your mouth, so we let it sit for about a month (in our Kombucha refrigerator), and when we tried it again it was FANTASTIC!!!  Apparently blueberry is like wine, the longer it sits, the better it tastes!
Make sure you stir it well.  I like to make sure it is very well mixed, and even pour it into the pitchers while it is swirling.  I stop pouring it into pitchers to stir it as well.  You want the strawberry's throughout.  If you don't stir a lot then it ends up settling at the top.
This is when you show your muscle.  I pick up the bucket and pour it into my gallon pitchers that I place on the floor.  Honestly, I don't think I could lift it high enough to do this step on the cabinet.  And these are much easier to handle while you are pouring into bottles.
Here are my pitchers of strawberry Kombucha ready to be bottled.  I do suggest the use of Grolsch bottles, because I have heard horror stories of others bottling in decorative swing top bottles, and explosions happening.  Not funny!!!
I give the Kombucha a good stir, and start bottling.  You have to kinda pour slowly or you will fill the bottle with fizz and not Kombucha.
When I get the whole gallon poured up in bottles, I then close them all and pack them back into the box.  This is where they stay for 3 more days, capped and warm, for a second ferment.  This step is very important, because the fruit has a chance to ferment into the Kombucha.  If you skip these 3 days, you will regret it!!

Here is some general info that I have been asked.  I have heard of people refrigerating their mother when they plan on being out of town for a while.  Unless you are leaving it for a couple of weeks, I don't think it is necessary.  You could just leave it fermenting, maybe put extra sugar in the tea (to keep it fed) and then when you come back, save some reserve, and start new Kombucha.  I have even heard of it being dehydrated and brought back.  I don't think I would recommend this, because it should stay wet. 
If you are having explosive issues, check your yeast production.  Rinse the jar, and check to make sure your mother still looks nice and healthy.  If it is too flat, then there is a problem with your yeast production.  I have heard that some recommend that you flip your mother every time you make it.  DON'T DO THIS!!!  There is a top and a bottom, and they shouldn't get confused.  The bottom is where the yeast grows, if you flip it over you are killing your yeast.

So now that everyone has seen my house, and my kiddos (playing in the background), This is how I make Kombucha.  If you would like a mother and reserve to start your own, feel free to contact me.  I am happy to give these away.  I have never mailed a SCOBY or mother, so I have no idea how to do so.  If you want to suggest a method of shipping, and then pay for the shipping only, I would be glad to do it.  Sometimes I have spare bottles to sell, not always.  If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Introduction to me (The Educated Smarta$$)

Okay, so I realize that the title is a bit redundant, but I like to cover my bases.  I was reluctant to set up my own blog, but I have come to the hard realization that I just have too much to say to keep my mouth (or keyboard) shut any longer.

Just so you know what to expect when you come here, I thought I would tell you a bit about myself.  I am a happily married woman (most of the time), with five precious, wonderful, sometimes awful kids.  I believe in natural childbirth (going so far as unassisted), breastfeeding (until the kid brings a date home, and that is when I draw the line), the family bed (until they start kicking me out), not vaccinating (just nothing cute to put here), baby wearing (on occasion), anti-circumcision (I mean, please people, do I have to list the reasons why not to hurt a baby at birth??)  and many more controversial subjects, that I'm sure will piss someone off.

The one thing I will say, is if you don't like what you read.....there is an x in a red box at the top of the screen for a reason.  I love a good debate, but I don't care to be harassed.  If you actually present me with facts supporting my wrong view of things, maybe just maybe I will retract something I said.  (Warning:  I really like to argue)!!!  Oh, and just so you can go ahead and expect it, I will, at some point, piss you off!!  Don't say I didn't warn you.

I guess I will go ahead and give you a taste of what you are likely to find here.  Everyone has been talking about the latest show about people having babies on film.  I can't tell you how much this gets under my skin, and I don't even watch any of them.  I mean, I have a theory.....I think that doctors so want us to believe that they're our salvation, that they are threatened by the (so-called) small numbers of us that actually birth at home, without their help.  I think they are so threatened by us that they are creating shows like the "One born every minute" in hopes of scaring the pants off of anyone thinking of doing it differently.  I mean, seriously, if you just found out you were pregnant, or were half way through already, and you are watching TV and see women screaming in labor, or begging for an epidural, or even watch as the 'emergency' builds so the people can be sooooo glad that the doctor was there to do the 'life-saving' section.  Don't get me wrong, I know that sometimes they are important, but 32.4%????  You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding.......  But that is for another day.

Hope you enjoyed meeting me.  Maybe next time I will be on another tangent about something else.  Or you just might get to hear about how adorable, and rotten my kids are!!

Until then.....