Craft & Vision--a Favorite of Mine

One of my favorite photography ebook sites is Craft & Vision. They provide, "exceptional photography education at irresistible prices." I think $5 for a beautiful, digital ebook full of instructions and samples is irresistible. 
Check out their free book entitled "Craft & Vision: 11 Ways to Improve Your Photography." They are celebrating their 3rd birthday the next two days with a 33% discount off 10 or ebooks. I love reading the books on my iPad. I receive no benefit from sharing their site. I just want to pass on a great resource. 

4-Tier Sprouter Kit

It's time to share another of my favorite things.
 I love sprouts! 
A sprout sandwich...delicious! 
A handful for a snack...yummy.
After moving to Puerto Rico I realized that if I wanted sprouts I was going to have to grow them myself. 
At first I used a quart canning jar, but then on one of my trips, I picked up this 4-Tier Sprouter at Williams-Sonoma and hand carried it back to PR.
 Honestly, I was skeptical, yet I was curious too.
 It is amazingly simple to use. Twice a day pour two cups of water on the top tray.
That's it.
Water and watch them grow.

On the Go: Morning Pages

I'm linking to my sister's a 2 z letter G this week.

a2z: Take 2. Patty Wysong Helping bloggers blog.

This past Saturday morning, at 4AM, we left the island for a business trip to FL. 
I had my blogging schedule all planned out and uploaded the photos into posts all ready to write during out travels. 
Well, that didn't happen. 

We returned to our Coastal Casa at 4AM today. 
Along the way we picked up some family in the Ft. Lauderdale airport...a surprise meeting for them.
We coordinated the end of the  business trip with our girls' plane change in FL then flew to PR on the same flight. 
Since I haven't had time to upload and process photos from the trip, I'm falling back on what I planned to do while away in FL.
My morning pages...
journaling, zentangles and random writing, are a treasured routine that I have.
I've tried different notebooks through the years and been hooked on different types of pens and pencils, but since being in Puerto Rico I've returned to simplicity.
Since I like using full size paper I use loose 81/2 x 11 paper that I store in a magazine.
The magazine gives me padding and stability so that I can write anywhere, plus
I look forward to the bits and pieces of direction and inspiration that I've gleaned from the pages of which ever magazine I happen to be using.

My favorite pens are once again the simple Bic sticks. 
I enjoy seeing the pens deplete as my pages increase. 
As I complete the pages I stick them in a file folder and bind them.
Then I stick them in my all time FAVORITE storage boxes,
Really Useful Boxes Inc. They are sold in the major office supply stores now, even here on the island.
Because of our salty moist air all paper has to be stored in these boxes.
So my ream of new paper and my used paper share the same box.
 Later I spiral bind the pages at a Kinkos for easy bookshelf storage.
When I travel-which we do a lot- I just throw my pens and magazine with the blank paper into my net folder bag and off I go. 

Do you have a favorite notebook or journaling method?
I'd love to hear about it.

Kombucha Tea

Favorite No. 1
I'm starting a new series of my favorite things. Slowly I will build on it.

The first item is....Kombucha. 
Amazingly, I never heard of this drink until this past September while at Oklahoma's new, first and only Whole Foods. It is a probiotic beverage that we discovered that we really like, however, it is expensive. Also, here in Puerto Rico we can only find it in one store at a much higher price than back in Oklahoma City. There is debate about the benefits of this tea and concerns as well. Instead of addressing them here you can use the above links if you are interested. 

After some research online I found that I can make it here at home. The whole process sounded interesting, like a science experiment. The "SCOBY" (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)confused and intrigued me.
My first step was to figure out how to start a batch since I don't know of anyone here who brews kombucha. I used multiple sources and combined the information.
I used this recipe:
2 cups of water
1/3 cup of sugar
4 tea bags (2 green tea and 2 black tea)
1 bottle of GT Original Kombucha from a health food store
1 gallon glass container

I set the bottle of kombucha tea out so to get it to room temperature.
Boil water, add sugar and stir until dissolved. 
Turn stove off. Add tea bags and left steep for 10-15 minutes, covered.
Let tea cool to room temperature.
Pour GT Original Kombucha into gallon glass jar then add the room temperature sweet tea mixture. Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel and secure with a rubber band (to keep out fruit flies...).
Set in a warm, darkened area and leave it undisturbed. Mine went in the kitchen cupboard. 
It took 12 days for my batch to grow a 1/4" SCOBY on top. I've read that the time depends upon your climate and time of year. Since we are in the tropics it went quickly. It smelled vinegar-y.
My first batch of starters on day 12.
 See the SCOBY on top? This was taken on day 12.
The texture is so interesting. It is like a rubbery disk, solid and slippery.
I tasted the starter batch: strong vinegar flavor with tiny, little bubbles. It was good, but strong.

After 12 days I fed it (think of it like sour dough bread where you have a starter and have to feed it...).

To feed it:
1 gallon* boiling water (*I used only 2 quarts of boiling water--see below)
1 cup sugar
6 tea bags (I used 3 green and 3 black)
Prepare the sweet tea as stated above.
*To quickly get it to room temperature I added 2 quarts of room temperature bottled water to the boiled mixture.
In a gallon or two gallon glass jar I put 2 cups of my starter tea then added the gallon of new sweet tea mixture then the SCOBY from the starter batch. The SCOBY sunk to the bottom but within two days was back floating on top.
This is the new freshly fed batch. The SCOBY is at the bottom. 
Now I am waiting for this first batch to get ready for the bottling. It will probably be 10 days then I'll bottle the tea, let it sit for 5 days before putting it in the refrigerator. We'll be able to drink it once it is chilled. 

One common caution that I've read in every to make sure everything is very clean. There are a lot of suggestions on what to use for containers, but the one that everyone agreed upon is glass. 

So...there's my first favorite. 
Tropical island living has forced me to be creative and experiment. I'll let you know how the tea turns out in a week or two.

Do any of you drink kombucha tea? or make your own?
I'd love to hear from you.

Here are some good sources: