Tag Archives: process

Kombucha Project # 1

We all know I can’t be satisfied with one project in the works. I have to have three, or more, in the works. With two novels in the editing phase, I took on a home project brewing Kombucha and I want to show you how this is coming along.

Kombucha is fermented tea with the health benefits:

*contains probiotics
*alkalizes the body
*detoxifies the liver
*increases metabolism
*improves digestion
*alleviates constipation
*cancer prevention
*reduces blood pressure
*relieves headaches & migraines
*aids healthy cell regeneration
*reduces kidney stones
*high in polyphenols
*improves eyesight
*reduces eczema – softens the skin
*prevents arteriosclerosis
*speeds healing of ulcers
*helps clear up candida & yeast infections
*boosts energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*high in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer and promote healthy cellular development
*rebuilds connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism

 

You can do continuous brew (CB) or batch brew (BB), and I thought, since this was my first time I would do BB, and if I liked it well enough, switch over to CB. At $4.00 a pop in health food  stores, it can get quite expensive if you drink a couple of servings a day.

To brew Kombucha at home is really very simple.

You need the following:

A healthy SCOBY (A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) In my case two. Yes, they’re alive!

1 cup -2 cups strong starter liquid per gallon

A brewing vessel (plain or fancy) a glass pickle jar will do, you can get a fancy ceramic urn with a spigot, or what I have that is a cross between the two, a 2.5 gal glass water dispenser with a spigot. I want to be able to watch the process, but have the convenience of a spigot.

Tea, (green or black)

1 cup granulated cane sugar per gallon (feeds the yeast, not you)

4-6 bags tea bags per gallon

distilled water

tea kettle

cloth cover

rubber band

  Steps

  1. Boil 4 cups of water per gallon.
  2. Add hot water & tea bags to pot.
  3. Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
  4. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let tea cool down to room temperature to prevent killing SCOBY! Add to vessel.
  5. Fill vessel most of the way with distilled water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room.
  6. Add SCOBY and starter liquid. (Best source for these Kombucha Kamp, Hannah also sells heater strips for those in cooler climates, as ideal brewing temp is around 74 to 82 degrees.)
  7. Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
  8. Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
  9. Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque). Mine is in my darkened studio, but I also wrap it in a dark blankie.) The area needs to be well ventilated.
  10. Do not disturb for 7 days. (Mine took 14 d/t quantity)
Healthy SCOBY
Healthy SCOBY

I purchased my SCOBY, starter and heating sheet from Kombucha Mama at Kombucha Kamp. I can’t say enough about Hannah and her helpers. Her customer service is impeccable. She really knows her Kombucha and if you have a question about the process, she has the answer somewhere on her site.

SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. There are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.
SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. They are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.
Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could judge the brewing temp.
Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could gauge the brewing temp. The mamas will sink as the baby forms on the top.
With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I'm keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby's name is Stuie.
With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I’m keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby’s name is Stuie. See the yeastie bits forming?
The tea lightens as it ferments.
The tea lightens as it ferments.

 

Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job.
Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job. Bubbles of carbonation are building under him as he grows to seal off the tea from the air.

Once Stuie has done his job (7-14 days, a little longer if you have slow starter or a large quantity. Only three or four days if you use continuous brew method.) the mamas and baby are set aside into the scoby hotel. If you are doing CB, you don’t even have to do this step, just decant a third from the bottom, then pour in replacement fresh sweet tea. I wasn’t sure about the first batch, but will be CBing in the future.

Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT
Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT. My currently unused art studio serves as my KT brewing room. You can brew in a lovely ceramic brew pot, also available at Kombucha Kamp, right on your kitchen counter top.
Kombucha Brewing First batch 010
I’ve prepped my fruits and herbs and spices. I’m making pear with ginger and cinnamon, peach ginger, strawberry, and hibiscus with cinnamon. A little goes a long way. You only need about a teaspoon per 16 oz bottle. The KT acts on the natural sugars to add more carbonation to this fizzy drink during the second ferment, which takes three or four days.
My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don't have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I'll tell you about later.
My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don’t have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I’ll tell you about later.

Decant into your 16 oz bottles from the spigot, or you can pour from a jar over the sink. The spigot is a lifesaver. My funnel has a screen which filters the yeasty bits.

You want to fill your bottles nearly to the top so as little space as possible is there for air. This speeds carbonation. VERY IMPORTANT: Burp your bottles every day or two to avoid EXPLOSION!!!

Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don't forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glas and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.
Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don’t forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glass and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.
Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water...even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture.
Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water…even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture. If you are doing continuous brewing instead of batch brewing, you only have to do this about every four to six months. Once fully fermented, I’ll be poring off into the Grolsch-style bottles.
Once your KT is ready, you can pur yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.
Once your KT is ready, (about a week) you can pour yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.
If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast.
If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast. It keeps fresh for two or three weeks.

I can’t say enough about Kombucha Kamp and the Kombucha Mama. Hannah Crum is truly awesome and she is available to get you started with all the supplies you need. She also supports you through the process if you have concerns. She’s been in production for seven years and has attended many seminars and appeared on TV shows where she explains Kombucha and how to make it. Here is a cool video where she explains how to flavor during the second ferment:

“Red Clay and Roses”: Paperback Progress

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Got my latest proof in the mail from CreateSpace.

I think the brighter book cover image looks much better.

I am going ahead and accepting this proof and proceeding with the process.  I have been over every word. I am not totally 100% satisfied with it.

  1. There is a place in the book, secondary to a revision, where the pronoun “he” was used, instead of the proper noun “Nathan”.
  2. There is a place where quotation marks were used around an enclosed, handwritten letter erroneously.
  3. The preposition “to” is missing from a sentence.
  4. My chapters were long and I opted to put the chapter titles in the header on the left side.  I know it isn’t customary, but I thought it best, now I am not so sure.

None of the issues are the fault of anyone but me.  I would submit another manuscript and make the changes, but each time I have done that in the past, CreateSpace has screwed up something else, and I don’t want to risk it.  It takes too many days/weeks back and forth to get any changes accomplished.   I do understand now why it takes so long for traditional publishers to get anything accomplished.  It seems the more steps and people involved in the process; the more likely it is to be a lengthier process.

Blog Culture: Sunday Summations

Organization_Triangle

Yes, I know it is Monday. I missed my Sunday Summations post yesterday for two reasons:

1)      My weekend was really busy with birthday, company, and having family over, and

2)      I thought it was Saturday.

The first reasons might be acceptable, but the second reason is something that has been troubling me a lot lately.  My brain has been in a fog and I am not entirely sure why. I have been terribly forgetful and lost in my own thoughts when I really should be actively doing other things. I don’t speak of this often on my blog, but I have an anxiety disorder for which I take medication and I also have bipolar disorder for which I take mood stabilizers.  Because of Express Scripts mail order drug company (Don’t get me started.), my meds were late so I did without for about five days and I really think it did weird things to my otherwise fairly normal brain functioning. I know there are those who would argue that my brain is never fairly normal in functioning, but most of the time my thinking is pretty clear.

On to Organization: 

Structure:

  • I have become bored with my blog. I knew this would happen, because I tend to bore easily.  This is one reason I can’t read many books that aren’t action packed.
  • I am thinking of trying new themes, but I haven’t decided yet.  I like my header, and I like the way the menu is set up at the top. I don’t like how the writing space is so narrow and the widget space is so very broad.  The narrow writing space makes my posts appear longer than they are (and long reads can be a turn off).  The broad widget space wastes the writing space with items that make the blog appear very busy.
  • This is an “everything” blog and I am wondering if I should have a blog dedicated to my new genre writing, or just leave it here.  I would like a blog that is more “Crime Fiction” and writing/author focused, but I am wondering if changing the subtitle to my blog might accomplish that goal without getting too scattered all over the blogging map.
  • I would also like to update my about page, so that there are separate about me, and an about this blog sections…somehow.
  • Some of the categories that I don’t contribute to very often are coming out of the header to make room for what I feel are more worthy topics, like resources for writers, and other such things, so you will see some changes there.

People:

  • I met some very interesting people who live alternative lifestyles at the Parliament House and at Cypress Cove Nudist Resort. They would all like to be in my books, and have given me permission to utilize their characters without their names. I am sure that I can work some of these colorful people in somehow. So these contacts should add to the fun of writing.
  • If you are an author, a poet, or a reader and you have not yet met Papi Z at The Literary Syndicate, I highly recommend that you drop by and introduce yourself.  He is a strong supporter of all things literary.
  • If you want to begin your week with laughter you should go by on Mondays and visit with John Howell at Fiction Favorites or Marie Ann Bailey at 1WriteWay and see their collaborative weekly installments of “Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do”.  In fact, you could stop by and see them today!
  • If you, like me, love to travel via your blog (the airfare is more affordable) Anne Bell takes regular trips to India, a place filled with culture and beauty.  You can visit her at Tales Along the Way.  Be sure to look through her categories for the colorful and interesting articles on India.
  • I would also like to introduce you to someone local who is very new to me, Nancy Pate.  She is one third of the Caroline Cousins (three real southern cousins) who published three books, “Fiddle Dee Death”, “Marsh Madness”, and “Way Down Dead in Dixie” under John F. Blair Publisher.  She is another Orlando resident who is a reader, writer, recovering journalist, book critic for Orlando Sentinel 1985-2005, and has a wonderful book review blog at On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever. (Especially if you like crime fiction.)

Process:

  • I am ashamed to admit that I only got 500 words actually written in my WIP which comprised one small, but important scene.  As you can tell, it has been a busy week.
  • In other ways of progress I have made tremendous strides in research for the novel both online and in real life.  I have gotten out visiting some places in Melbourne (where the murder takes place), and here in the Orlando/Kissimmee/St. Cloud area where much of the sleuthing occurs. This included an airboat ride. What fun!  My husband’s first, and he enjoyed it.
  • Wild_Florida_Airboats_(002)
  • I am also joining up with some organizations which will offer me some opportunities and exposure in my writing/book selling efforts.  More about those later.
  • “Red Clay and Roses” has not been forgotten.  If you have had opportunity to read it PLEASE, yes, I am screaming, begging, pleading; write a review somewhere…your blog, Amazon, Goodreads, a personal email to me at sknicholls1@gmail.com , the sidewalk in chalk, graffiti on a wall…somewhere.
  • I recently had a surge in sales, but I have no real idea where those came from, all I know is that I greatly appreciate them and would love to know their opinions on the book.  And, yes, the paperback really is coming soon.

Ideas, thoughts, and suggestions are greatly appreciated!  What did you get accomplished last week?

Blog Culture: Sunday Summations

Organization_Triangle

Sunday Summations

I am trying to get a better handle on scheduling on this blog, and I would also like to highlight some blogs that I have become acquainted with so you get to know them too.  Sunday summations should be a regular feature as I examine my week and my goals.  Future Sunday Summations will probably be much shorter.

Summing up my weekly happenings:

1. Structure:  How I am attempting to stay organized.

  • I have created some drop down menus on this blog to better organize and lesson the length of the menu.  The subtitles should make things pertinent to the titles easier to find.
  •  I have completed the settings posts for Red Clay and Roses, the novel, and those can now be found under the menu title of the novel.  I may divide out the feature posts as well.  These settings and features are designed for fans to find more info on the book.
  • It is a goal to have a new posts added to each menu title or a subtitle weekly.
  • I may be adding other menu titles as new subjects develop.  I would really like to have a humor post at least once weekly…sometimes I can be funny, even if I am laughing at myself in the process.  I try not to laugh at the expense of others, but sometimes that happens too.

2. People: Cruising my Reader, and getting to know more and more WordPress family and friends, I have collected some blogs that are of significance to me for one reason or another. They are from a variety of interests and I am sure some of you will find them interesting, as well.  Check these folk out!  They are really cool!  I have categorized what I could. These categories are subject to change weekly.

  • Book reviews:

  • Queen of all things Books: Ionia Martin’s Readful Things. (Many sneak peeks with advance reader copies.)
  •  An all genre serious reviewer: Rosie Amber at Rosie Amber
  •  Master of Collectables: Julian Froment at Julian Froment’s Blog
  • Music:

  •  A lovely Soprano with a beautiful voice & 150,957 followers: Charlotte Hoather
  • Writers writing:

  • A lady with a sense of humor about her serious writing efforts: Katie Sparkes at Disregard the Prologue.
  • Wonderful poetry and short stories: Helen Midgley
  • New author with a new blog and a newly published book: Dean Kealy at Dean’z Worldz
  • Math & Science:

  • Fascinating and artistically colorful geometry for the fun of it: Robert Austin at Robert Loves Pi (Prepare to be dazzled.)
  • Scientist, deep thinker, and poet: Erik Andrulis at Anacephalaeosis
  • Useful Information for writers, authors & bloggers

  • Everything about Publishing and Marketing: Chris McMullen at Chris McMullen
  • Promotional Event for all authors, readers and gift givers.  Get signed up.  This is going to be HUGE!: Chris McMullen at Read Tuesday
  • New feature on blog “How to on WordPress” videos: Bradley Corbett at Green Embers (He takes requests BTW)
  • Guidance on writing techniques regardless of your genre: Victoria Grefer at Creative Writing with the Crimson League
  • Humor:

  • My kind of off the wall funny stuff: Rob Pop at Humans Are Weird (He always makes the time to return comments, and can often be even funnier when he does.)

Gosh!  So many creative geniuses…I could go on forever, but there will be other days!

3.   Process:  Just an update on my own personal progress this week:

  • With the help of blogger friends and readers in my reading and critique group, I decided on a prologue for my first book in this yet to be titled work and series.
  • There are now four beta readers for my new WIP (not counting my husband).
  • I got 12 bookstores lined up to buy copies of Red Clay and Roses when the paperback is live.
  • We are almost there with the paperback at CreateSpace.  It has been an interesting but sometimes frustrating journey.
  • My new bookmarks came in this week.  I think they are much more professional and not so microsofty as my last bookmarks.  My former ones were created by my publisher.  I would highly recommend having your bookmark image created by your cover image artist.  They can work wonders with graphics.  Thanks to Charles Yallowitz’s idea at Legends of Windemere, the QR codes are a great way to advertise without looking so much like an ad and they give me opportunity to make immediate sells on my smartphone without carrying around a pile of books.
  • New Bookmarks
    New Bookmarks
Old Bookmarks
Old Bookmarks

Sorry my formatting really sucked on this post.  I have yet to conquer formatting, which is why I have an independent publisher prepare my books 🙂

CreateSpace and Me: New Developments

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This is where I get to suck it up and eat crow.  This is my new paperback proof!  It is finally here!

All hope is not lost after all.  CreateSpace, after my Customer Service call to them, fast-forwarded their process to get my proof to me ASAP.  While they had a slight oversight and failed to note that I had requested four extra proofs be sent, they are sending those overnight delivery today.  They should be here by October 1st.

What’s that you say?  You thought I had an October 1st deadline with the contest?  You are right.  And Charles Yallowitz, I owe you one…you were right too.  There WAS a way to work it out.

I called the prize contest coordinators in NYC, and they tell me to go ahead and send overnight to them, as they have items trickling in all week d/t mail and such, so they are not excruciatingly strict.

I do not expect to win the contest, but at least it is a way to get the book read, perhaps by some who could be influential in promotions.  An honorable mention would be delightful, but it isn’t an expected outcome.  Being able to follow through on my reader’s groups’ expectations of me, and get this book entered at all is the accomplishment.  I am very happy today.