Mud Kitchen

I may have mentioned this before but I seem to think my property needs to be some sort of family fun center. I feel like I'm constantly building things so we can all have more fun here. It's as much about the process as it is about the end product though. I just love to build.

One of my recent projects was to convert our broken old wheelbarrow into a mud kitchen for the kids. Once again, as with some past projects, my goal was to purchase as little as possible and use recycled scrap materials.

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I had seen versions of the mud kitchen around Pinterest but didn't have the impetus to make it happen until I stumbled upon an estate free (like an estate sale only stuff was all free) and I was able to get a ton of great kitchen utensils and containers for it. Once I had those, I knew I had to get working on the build.

Our old wheelbarrow had a broken handle and while I had fixed it once, it also had a flat tire more often than not and was suffering in a number of ways. I treated us to a great new wheelbarrow with steel handles and a no-flat tire so I didn't hesitate to dismantle the old one.

Once that was in parts, I built a frame around the basin.

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I built the frame based on the lumber I had to work with so I made it as long as possible with one section to hold the basin and another section for the work top area (the back side of that has the spray painted circles you see here. Apparently I used that as a dropcloth at some point). I also found a hanging wire basket at the estate free so I mounted that underneath. Finally, one end has a dowel handle that's well secured.

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Fast forward to the final product. I used the feet from the old wheelbarrow to support the end opposite the tires and basin. I also purchased two new tires which I fed onto a steel bar and spaced using 1/2 inch PVC pipe. Here are some other angles:

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

If you have questions about exactly how it all went together, I can be more specific so just leave a comment and I'll follow up. I didn't set out with much of a plan since I had to just work with the materials I already had. That meant lots of strange angles and hinky support systems but it is strong and it can easily be rolled around our yard.

Good for hours of good, clean, dirty, fun.

Mud Kitchen by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Happy Summer!!!

Thank you for reading,

DIY Greenhouse Ideas on Hometalk

I know the rest of the country is getting hammered with really cold temperatures and snow but out here in the Pacific Northwest, we've enjoyed several unseasonably warm and sunny days recently. The past two weekends have been stunning so my mind is spinning with ideas for projects. Thanks to a friend posting a picture of a charming greenhouse on Facebook, I got to thinking about the greenhouse I built in the garden a couple of years ago. It has been a wonderful addition but when I built it, I had planned on taking it down during the summer months so it wouldn't obstruct the view of the garden from the pergola. It kept my tomatoes so happy though that I decided that was more important than the view.

The other compromise in our gardening spaces has been the back garden which, with the exception of the cute bright fence crafted out of painted crib parts, isn't all that great looking.

Suddenly I figured out how to solve both problems: I could move the greenhouse to the back garden and improve on the design in the process! This, of course, took me to Hometalk to browse what other people are doing with their greenhouses. I created a board of ideas I was inspired by for various reasons and I'd love you to go over to check it out:

Build, Sew, Reap on Hometalk

Do you have a greenhouse you've blogged about? I would love to see what you've done. Please comment here with a link or you can even post pictures directly on the Build, Sew, Reap Facebook post so we can all be inspired.

Thank you for reading,

Brewing Kombucha

I titled this post "Brewing Kombucha" but could have titled it "Kombucha: From a Non Expert" so know that I'm just learning this as I go. What I'm sharing here is just what has been working well for me. For the quick and easy directions to print out, click here.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

I started with a hunk of scoby in about 1 cup of home made kombucha from someone who offered it on our local Buy Nothing site. I jumped at the chance to stop spending around $4 for my favorite beverage. This is similar to how I received mine but these are the ones I'm giving to my friends now that my scoby is huge.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Builds, Sew, Reap

I brought 5 cups of water to a boil and added 1/3 cup of organic white sugar to it. Then I dropped in 6 black tea bags and let it steep until it was room temperature. You don't want to burn the good bacteria when you add it and your scoby together.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

I read not to try to use herbal teas or really anything except cane sugar and black or green tea. The herbal teas have oils from their herbs that might interfere with how your scoby works.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

I poured my tea and my new scoby together into a glass container with a spout. My spout looks metal but it isn't. I read that you should keep all metal away from your kombucha once it starts to brew because the metal will react with the bacteria and make it taste weird.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap
(Technically this isn't a picture from my first round but it looks similar. 
The scoby in this picture is much bigger than the hunk I originally received.)

I used a rubber band to hold a clean cloth napkin over the top. Please note: I don't use fabric softener and while this doesn't ever touch the kombucha, I would recommend that you make sure the cloth you use is as free from chemicals as possible.

I waited about a week before transferring to secondary containers with juice for a second fermentation but you can wait longer or not do a second fermentation at all. This is all preference, taste it and see what you think. If you don't have a spouted container, the best way to taste it is to take a straw, dip it a couple of inches into the liquid (past the scoby, you won't hurt it) then put your finger over the top of the straw and draw it back out. Release the liquid into a cup or straight into your mouth.

Also, keep in mind that once you really get things moving and your scoby grows and grows, you can do much larger batches and get far enough ahead of your consumption to let it ferment longer.

For the second fermentation, I used about a 1:5 ratio of fruit juice (pomegranate has been my favorite so far even though I don't really like it by itself) to kombucha tea. I also learned that you get a much better fizz if you a) put in a few matchstick size pieces of fresh ginger and b) you leave a bit of space at the top of your container. I haven't seen this recommended in any of my reading but I also started cutting off a small chunk of scoby to add into each jar for this fermentation. You can't ever put this scoby back in with the big one though, you don't want to introduce the juice sugars into your initial fermentation container.

Leave a cup or two of kombucha and the scoby in your big container. You use this as the starter for your next batch. In fact, you can start your next batch right away, just add new sweetened tea to the big container and brew away.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

I mark dates and ingredients on each one (oops, forgot what I put in the one in the jar here) so that when I taste it later, if I like it, I know how I made it. I leave these up on a nice high shelf in a kitchen cabinet for at least another week. I also periodically open each lid to let the gasses out. I think this lets it get fizzier but haven't really tracked what this is doing for the process. I've had good results so I assume it's doing some good.  **UPDATE: I let the fizz out of one to transfer to a portable container and it never got fizzy again. I'm going to stop burping my containers and just go straight from second fermentation in the cabinet to fridge (I like ice cold kombucha) to my glass without opening it until I'm ready to consume it.

I like my kombucha ice cold so when I like the flavor and fizz, I transfer it to some saved bottles from my old store bought kombucha habit and keep it in the fridge. UPDATE: See comments above about cutting out the step where I move the liquid after second fermentation to drinking container. I'm going to skip that and not open a container from the start of second fermentation until I'm ready to drink it. Second fermentation still needs to happen outside the fridge but once I think it's likely done, I'll move it into the fridge without opening it.

When I want a cold fizzy treat, it is right there for me to enjoy ... and it doesn't cost me $4.

Making Kombucha by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

Mmmm, look at the fizz on that!!

OK, so, I also wanted to just bullet a few of the tips I mentioned above as well as some others:
  • Don't use herbal teas
  • Your initial fermentation should just be sugar sweetened tea, no juices or ginger or anything else.
  • Make sure your kombucha and/or scoby don't come in contact with metal
  • It's OK if your scoby sinks to the bottom of the container, it'll still do its job. You'll soon have a new one growing on top of your liquid
  • Black spots are bad, dark brown is probably ok. Examine any weird spots you get, if they look moldy, it's probably best to scrap the batch and start with a new scoby.
  • Brown stringy things hanging from the underside of your scoby are fine. I think that's yeast or something. 
  • When you transfer the fermented tea out of the big container into smaller ones for drinking or for a second fermentation with juice, leave about a cup of it behind and just add more sweet tea to the container. I've done at least 5 batches and still haven't cleaned out the big container. 
  • FRESH ginger appears to make the beverage much fizzier during second fermentation. 
    • Don't try to use the ground ginger from your spice rack. It's disgusting and doesn't make things fizzy. 
  • Leave a bit of space at the top of your containers in the second fermentation.
  • Put a little chunk of scoby in the jars for your second fermentation (this is just my suggestion, I haven't seen it anywhere else online but it's working for me)
  • Don't try to use too much juice, start small. The flavor seems to go a long way.
  • Label your containers, you'll be so glad when you find something you like and you know how you made it.
I think that's all I know about kombucha. There's a ton of information out on the web so google around to see what else you can learn. If you figure out any great tips, please comment here to share with me and fellow readers.

Thank you for reading,

Holiday Card Book

I hadn't taken the time to put away our holiday cards until today but boy am I glad I put that off. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had hole punched all her cards, added a cover, and connected them using binder rings. I loved the idea but then put my own spins on the project.

I started by finding the longest and widest cards in our collection and cut two pieces of cardboard to about 1/4 inch larger (height and width) than those measurements. Then I covered the front in this pretty brown scrapbooking paper and the back in some metallic tan colored paper that coordinated nicely with the printed stitching on the cover. I also laminated two copies of our Christmas card from this year and attached one using foam tape to the front of the book. I didn't stick it in the very center so that I'd have ample space for the binding holes.

Holiday Card Book Front Cover by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

Next I attached the flip side of our Christmas card to the inside of the front cover. If you didn't do a 2-sided card, you can just cut out a rectangle of coordinating paper to cover the seams of the paper from the front.

Holiday Card Book Inside Cover by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

You can now also see that the book can lay flat with the ribbon binding I added.

Holiday Card Book Inside Back Cover by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

A couple of our friends made beautiful handmade cards so I added a pocket to the back. There was no way I was going to hole punch these treasures.

Holiday Card Book Back Cover by Julie @ Build, Sew, Reap

The back cover on mine is plain but I like it this way.

I used my 3-hole puncher to make holes in each card, being careful to center the card in the the top two slots. I was able to shove my front cover into the hole puncher but the back cover was too thick with the pocket added in. I actually used my leather punch tool to get through all those layers.

I love how it turned out and will enjoy looking through the cards year-round. In the past we have left the cards out for a long time to let the kids revisit them. We have a lot of friends and family who aren't in our area so we like to look at their pictures and talk about who they are. I love that my kids are growing up knowing the faces of some of my grade school and high school friends' kids.

I think I'm going to go find the heap of last year's cards that I never took care of. Sometimes it pays to push stuff to the side instead of dealing with it in a timely manner.

Do you save holiday cards? In the past, I've also used the non-photo ones to make bookmarks.

Thank you for reading,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...