My Spring cleaning adventure Part 2.

My Spring cleaning adventure Part 2.

Yesterday I tackled the bedroom with some help. Today I hope to continue cleaning working my way through the rest of the house. Hoping not to miss anything important I am using the help of About Home who provide a handy list of jobs with hints and tips to make sure nothing is forgot.

I tidied the living room again hoovering and removing cat hair from the carpet.

Next I wanted an air freshener to help get rid of the smell of cat. I wanted something long lasting but inexpensive. I also didn’t want anything with lots of chemicals as I am asthmatic and even if I wasn’t natural is better and often cheaper. I googled how to make my own and found an easy to follow recipe on blog 25. all you need is a container you can put holes in, baking soda and an essential oil of your choice.

First I prepared my container, blog 25 uses a mason jar which is very handy but, I had to make do with the contents of my kitchen.

I used an old (washed out) coffee jar with plastic lid. I tried to pierce the lid but I couldn’t manage this with the tools I had at hand. Instead I used an old bobble to secure a bit of fabric with pin holes over the opening. Before putting the fabric over the opening I filled a fith of my jar with baking soda. To this I added 10 drops of vanilla oil to ensure a strong scent. I then put the plastic lid on the jar and shook the contents to mix it together. After this I put the fabric lid over the jar secured with a bobble and found a home for my new air freshener on the windowsill.

(pics to follow)

After this I continued tidying hoovering the sofa cushions and putting away dry washing. My new goal is to ensure washing is put away straight away instead of leaving it on the sofa for days.

Tomorrow I am back at work so the rest of the deep clean is on hold till I have time to continue.

For now I would love to hear how your spring cleaning adventures are going?

Webistes

http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/cleaning101/a/springclnngguid.htm – about home website with spring cleaning list

http://blog.freepeople.com/2012/08/diy-2ingredient-air-freshener/ – blog 25 air feshener recipe.

Save the Bank Gift Idea

Free word art for every occasion

Mothers day has just been and the next occasion I have coming up is my siblings birthdays in april. Sometimes the need to spend money on gifts and going out to celebrate occasions can feel never ending especially when your on a tight budget. So instead of breaking the bank I am going to create home-made presents for the next few occasions. Hopefully more if I have any success. I want to create something unique without having to spend hours working on it. Im all for gifts from the heart which you have spent time and effort making however with three separate birthdays in the next two weeks and very little time to make anything due to working twelve hour shifts I need something simple.

Looking at gift ideas on Facebook swap sites and google I found this website where you can buy personalised word art for any occasion :https://www.facebook.com/Wordartforyou

I really liked the concept but didn’t want to spend £13 buying something I could probably make myself. So I googled it.

The first helpful website I found belonged to another blogger Maggie.  http://blog.thelovenerds.com/2013/09/free-shaped-word-art.html Her website provided instructions on how to make your own word art using a free online engine called Tagxedo. http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html

I decided to give it a go. First I headed over to the website.

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Then I clicked on create. Next I had to install silverlight as I am now working on a new (second-hand) laptop.

This took me to the creation engine

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Next you need to click load. On the left hand side.Then you can either type in the words you want to use, upload a file from your desktop (perhaps of your favourite poetry) or choose a web address.

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For my first trial I chose to use a web address. In fact I chose the address for my blog.

Then I hit submit and waited.

Once you have chosen your text you can change the shape.

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I decided to try a dinosaur as they are awesome.

din 1

If you then want to change the colour of your creation use the theme arrow down the left hand side.

If you want to change which words are which colour then clock thee circular arrow next to colour.

If you want to change your text font then you can either select the circular arrow next to font for a random selection or use the arrow to pick a specific option.

The software is nice and easy and best of all free to use. Have a play around until you find something you are happy with.

“Orientation” : allows you to choose the direction that you would like your words to face.

“Layout” shifts the words around

When your done click on the save/share button to either print or save the image to your computer.

Good luck                                            dino blog

Kindness its not just for Christmas

Quick Christmas appeal

Christmas is amazing I love Christmas. I love trying to guess what presents I’ve got and if my partner will like what I’ve got him. I love cooking and baking in the run up to the big day. I always try to save some money in the run up to Christmas so I can get something nice for Christmas day and New Year’s Eve.

In all seriousness though Christmas is a time for family, forgiveness and thoughtfulness it’s not just about the presents. Whilst many people are getting ready for Christmas day, worrying if they have bought the perfect gift for their children and if the everything will run smoothly or if there will be another argument over what to watch on tv, others just see it as another day on which they have to somehow make ends meet and survive.

Giving and receiving presents is lovely but there is no need to panic if your gift costs less than their gift. That is not what Christmas is about it’s about appreciating what you have and trying to share a little of what you have with others who have less.

This year I am supporting a Christmas charity organisation called the big give (link at bottom) who raise funds and co-ordinate their appeals to help you help the charity of your choice. You can choose from location and cause to decide where you want to spend your money.

I am also trying to make Christmas go further by trying to raise awareness of the need to help others and be kind not just at Christmas but all year round. This doesn’t have to be a financial commitment it can involve donating old items to charity or donating time or even just letting someone else get on the bus before you or holding a door when you didn’t have to.

I am collecting the stamps I receive on Christmas cards and giving them to charity. It’s a small gesture that doesn’t inconvenience me in any way and can help someone else.

Don’t just be kind for Christmas be kind wherever there is opportunity. The benefits include making another persons day and being aware that you have helped someone when you could have not.

I hope you all have a lovely christmas full of love and appreciation.

WARNING: over kindness can lead to a sense of fulfilment and the need to help strangers.

Links

http://www.thebiggive.org.uk/ -charity donations to location and cause of your choice

Emergency flour free dessert – Rissoto cake

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I was invited to have dinner by a friend from my chapel who lives a few villages over. Me and another friend had agreed to walk down and visit before the end of the academic year. I volunteered to bring the dessert if she brought the wine. Being me I didn’t want to bring a shop bought cake so decided to make my own. However my attempt at making a pineapple sponge ended very badly. Although I followed the recipe, I forgot baking powder gets stronger with age and added an extra pinch, the cake tasted very bitter.

At this point I had finished the last of my flour but still needed to make something for the promised dessert as I would be walking across the next day.

I Googled flour free desserts and found this recipe at :

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2762/italian-rice-cake-with-red-fruit.aspx

It was a recipe for cake made from risotto rice, milk and lemon peel. It came with the suggestion to serve it with a red fruit salad. I didn’t dust the top with icing sugar as suggested but the cake was well received.

Ingredients

Serves : 8 

  • 600 ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
  • a strip of lemon zest
  • 150 g (5½ oz) risotto rice
  • 100 g (3½ oz) pine nuts
  • 100 g (3½ oz) blanched almonds
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • sifted icing sugar to decorate
  • Red fruit salad
  • 300 g (10½ oz) strawberries     I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
  • 125 g (4½ oz) raspberries
  • 200 g (7 oz) cherries, stoned

Directions

Prep:1hr15min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:1hr55min

  1. Heat the milk with the strip of lemon zest in a heavy-based saucepan until boiling. Stir in the rice, then turn down the heat so the milk barely simmers. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 40 minutes or until the rice is very soft and the mixture is thick and creamy.
  2. Spoon the rice mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 21 cm (8 1/2 in) springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Spread the pine nuts and almonds in separate baking tins and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Roughly chop the almonds.
  4. Remove the strip of lemon zest from the rice. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Beat in the caster sugar, grated lemon zest and rum, then add the nuts.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture using a large metal spoon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then wrap (still in the tin) and chill overnight. (It can be kept in the fridge for 48 hours, if necessary.)
  7. To make the red fruit salad, purée 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of the strawberries in a food processor or blender. or by pushing them through a sieve. Halve the remaining strawberries and stir into the purée together with the raspberries and cherries. Spoon into a serving bowl.
  8. Unmould the cake onto a serving plate and peel off the lining paper. Dust the cake with icing sugar, and serve with the fruit salad.

Another idea

To make a chocolate rice cake, cook the rice with the strip of lemon zest as in the main recipe, then remove from the heat and discard the lemon zest. While the rice mixture is still hot, stir in 55 g (2 oz) grated good dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa solids) until melted, then leave to cool. Instead of the grated lemon zest, add 2 tbsp cold strong espresso coffee with the rum.

Plus points

Pine nuts have been eaten for hundreds of years – husks have been found in the rubbish tips from Roman camps in Britain. Pine nuts contain useful amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamin E. * Cherries are rich in potassium, and provide useful amounts of vitamin C.

Total Time

1¼ hours, plus chilling overnight

Some other flour free dessert recipes

http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/45991/ – recipe for flourless chocolate walnut cookies

http://www.chefeddy.com/2010/08/flour-free-chocolate-cake/  – recipe for flour free chocolate layer cake

Kombucha – homemade mushroom tea

 

Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar

Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Kombucha-  non-alcoholic fermented mushroom tea

I went out a few weeks ago to celebrate the end of the academic year with friends and as a last day out before everyone starts to leave. We dropped into our favourite health-food café and they had something new called kombucha on the menu, naturally I wanted to try this. It tasted like apple cider without the alcoholic content. When I got home I looked it up :Kombucha is a tea based drink with possible medicinal properties made from special fermented mushrooms. It has been suggested to help the liver and have a positive effect on people with chronic fatigue and ME. Although there is no medical evidence to prove or disprove the suggested properties of the drink.

I decided that I would love to have a go at making this tea and looked into how it was made. I discovered it was simple however you needed a starter batch of previously made kombucha to begin. My health food store didn’t have any but suggested checking online. I purchased the scoby starter mushrooms from ebay and will be having a go when they arrive. I will be posting more here as I go.

If you have any questions please leave feedback.

The recipe I am using is below. I don’t have a starter tea so will be replacing this with white vinegar as suggested.

Will let you know how i have got on in a few weeks.

How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home

Makes about 1 gallon

What You Need

Ingredients

3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup white sugar
8 bags black tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored) kombucha
1 scoby per fermentation jar
Optional flavoring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices

Equipment

Stock pot
1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles

Instructions

Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.

1. Make the Tea Base: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.

2. Add the Starter Tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)

3. Transfer to Jars and Add the Scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

4. Ferment for 7 to 10 Days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

5. Remove the Scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)

7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.

Additional Notes:

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.

Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.

Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are ok, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.

Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.

Troubleshooting Kombucha

• It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.

• Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.

• A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.

• To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.

• If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.

 

Recipe taken from:http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-kombucha-tea-at-home-173858

 

Good place for more info http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-tea-frequently-asked-questions-faq

Another blogger who writes about their experience of kombucha: http://www.sarahbethrosa.com/2012/12/29/home-brew-kombucha-day-17-transfer-of-the-scoby/

http://www.commonsensehome.com/healthy-homebrew-kombucha/

 

How to make Brownie in a Mug.

How to make Brownie in a Mug..

I  found this at:  http://ezyesta.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/how-to-make-brownie-in-a-mug/  and thought it was so awesome I had to have a go. hope you enjoy too.

all you need is 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of salt, 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp water.

Place flour and sugar in cup

Place flour and sugar in cup

Gather all the ingredients

Gather all the ingredients

add chocolate powder and salt

add chocolate powder and salt

add the oil and water

add the oil and water

Mix it all together

Mix it all together

Keep mixing till you have a smooth consistency

Keep mixing till you have a smooth consistency

heat in the microwave for about 1min 40 secs

heat in the microwave for about 1min 40 secs

Lovely war chocolate muffin

Lovely warm chocolate brownie

Sit back and enjoy

Sit back and enjoy

Tip- If the mixture is too dry try adding a tiny bit more water

Tip- If the mixture is too dry try adding a tiny bit more water