DIY: Mailbox Planter

July 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

One of the first things I didThis re purposed mailbox is no more difficult than planting any other planter, you fill with dirt, make sure there is appropriate drainage and away you go! I wanted something that would fall out of the box and had some left over Creeping Jenny that I needed to put to good use. The one downfall is that the mailbox doesn’t collect rain and can get quite hot, so be sure to water appropriately.

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DIY: Lavender Room Spray

July 17, 2013 Comments Off on DIY: Lavender Room Spray

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I would love nothing more than a house that smelled like nothing. The kind of absence of smell that makes you think your house is clean. However in a house with two big dogs, that just doesn’t happen. So I resort to this easy solution for deodorizing.

DIY Room Spray

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part alcohol( I use a  cheap high proof vodka)
  • Approximately 1 Tbsp of baking soda per 2/3 cups of water ( you want it to dissolve)
  • Essential Lavender oil (for a small  spray bottle I use 40 drops)

If you have a more refined olfactory pallet, you can mix scents with lemon, bergamote, rose, or geranium. I have even mixed with citronella, but that is really a more acquired smell.

Happy Mixing!

Curb Appeal: Dried Mushroom Wreath

May 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

This simple wreath is made from dried mushrooms that have been dyed. They were made specifically for wreaths and arrangements and come with long thin sticks attached, making them easy to arrange .  As a word of caution they  fade in direct sunlight, so be careful where you put them if you want to preserve the color. Although I imagine they are quite easy to over-dye or pant.

Say Cheese!

April 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last year for christmas I received the book nourishing traditions which put the seed in my mind about making my own cheese. However like most things in my life it wasn’t a priority and so has yet to happen. I initially used the excuse that I didn’t have access to a milk I thought would be sufficient. Virginia has very strict and some might say needlessly obtrusive restrictions on raw milk. However as it turns out you don’t actually need raw milk you just need milk that is not ultra, that means not  ultra pasteurized or ultra homogenized.  These extend shelf life of the milk , but it not so good for the cheese making. I have since found milk through a local dairy as well as a few in store varieties that could be used. I haven’t yet taken the plunge, Urban Cheesecraft  has affordable $25  cheese kits that I’m thinking about trying. Any thoughts?

Cost Comparison: Coffee

April 16, 2012 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Coffee

I didn’t start to drink coffee until I was in college. It was my bribe to hang out in the library. Go  to the library drink a coffee flavored milkshake. It seemed like a decent trade at the time.  Little did I know those coffee flavored milkshakes are quite the gate way drug. I’m already well on my way to french pressing my way to snobbery.

There’s a gamut of options to consider when finding your favorite coffee,is  it fair trade, what roast, what flavor, what region, local, non local, organic, non organic.  I haven’t been using my french press long enough to  to know the implications of each choice, so I won’t pretend.  My preference is for something local, fair trade, the flavor is mostly irrelevant  for me because I  frequently change what I am drinking. But if we’re being honest here, I also frequent Starbucks just as much as my local coffee house, which makes me just a little bit of a hypocrite. Although this mostly dictated by location. However my favorite by far is Trager Brothers coffee. When I was working my dismal job in the hospital it was the only thing that I looked forward to.

 

Blend 50 by Trager Brothers (local, organic, fair trade) at $11.99/pound  this is roasted locally in Nelson County Virginia and is honestly the best coffee I have ever had.

Whole Foods 365 Bulk (traditional and organic) $8.99 to $10.99/pound

Starbucks Sumatra (making an effort to be fair trade)$13.50/pound

Folgers (probably not fair trade) ~$8.96/per pound

For just a few dollars more you can really get a higher quality and potentially more ethical cup of joe.  Now you’ll say of the folgers only cost be $6.00, yes this is true, but they are also giving you less coffee about 11 or 12ounces, so the comparable cost  to many “premium” brands is actually closer.

Now how much do you save by making your own coffee?

I have found a pound makes about 8 cups(32 ounces) of coffee for 6-7 days, comparably if you were buying two grande coffees(at a coffee house, not a gas station) at $4/a day it comes out to be $24-$28/week. Meaning if you brew your own coffee you are saving $12-$15/a week spread out over the year $624-$780.

Cold Brew Coffee-Making Iced Coffee

April 8, 2012 § 1 Comment

There is nothing like drinking a cup of coffee when you don’t have to go to work.It becomes something you can enjoy slowly instead of something you need to get through the drudgery of the day. Or maybe you have an enjoyable job and get to experience this every day!

This weekend I experimented with  cold brewing coffee, the process of letting coffee grounds steep in room temperature water for an extended period of time.  The cold brew method results in a lowers acidity  and this is what primarily results in the change in flavor.  The lower acidity is something I rather enjoy, as someone who stresses quite a bit and often has some acid reflux going on! Opponents say this method lack complexity of its heated brethren, however I found the flavors complete and enjoyed the smoothness. They do sell cold brew systems out there, but I find this rather unnecessary.

The recipe for the batch below makes quite a bit of coffee, and you can do smaller batches if you wish, but I enjoy having the extra on hand in the fridge. As an added bonus, every cup  saves you $2-$3 and who  doesn’t love saving money.

Have you tried cold brew coffee? What did you think?

Cold Brew Coffee

What you’ll need:

About a half pound of course ground coffee

10 cups of filtered room temperature water

A large container

Something to strain the  mixture with, I filtered batches in my french press but you can buy filters or even filter through cheese cloth.

What you need to do:

Take the coffee and put it into your container add the water, I chose to stir the mixture at that time, but you can also let it sit for ten minutes and then stir.

Cover the mixture  and let sit for at least 12-72 hours. I steeped mine for 24 hours, which seems to be happy medium.

Strain

This next one is important, DILUTE! This process actually creates a concentrate, that you can drink straight if you are a strong coffee fan. You can dilute with water, milk, cream,or even soy. I first tried the dilution with soy , but it actually seemed to overpower the flavor of the flavor. I found I much more enjoyed the following dilution:1/2 cup concentrate, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 of milk.

If you do want to add sweetener you may want to try making a simple syrup that will mix better. You make simple syrup by using 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. Bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar.

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