Kombucha, Gardening and Santa's Workshop

I've had a busy last few weeks as I'm sure most of you have had. I've had lots of sewing to do for our home made gifts, all of the usual Christmas and end of year stuff for the kids, and on top of that our laptop died suddenly.

This morning I was bottling up last week's kombucha and it prompted me to post a quick update here to tell you how we're getting on with it.  We've been making kombucha since the end of September and since then we've gone from drinking 1L per week to 4L per week.. and we're still running out! The kids absolutely love it, which is a surprising bonus. I've had a play with flavoured teas and we've settled on a favourite - cranberry and pomegranate (1 cranberry and pom tea bag and 1 black tea bag per 1L of water). You can read all about my entry into the world of fermented kombucha tea including my recipe here.

As for the health benefits.. well, we haven't had any 'die off' or negative side effects at all. I do limit the kids to one glass per day but they've been known to sneak more. Jemima in particular is mad for it.  Both kids have been pretty healthy lately but I think the real test will be next winter when the bugs start lurking. One thing I have noted is that both kids have been exposed to a rampant tummy bug repeatedly over the last month through friends and school/preschool and neither of them has caught it.

These bottles will go into the cupboard for a week to further ferment and fizz up a bit and then they'll be ready to drink. I was only leaving them for three or four days but we found that by leaving them longer the kombucha mellowed a bit and the taste was fresher.

As for the taste.. if you're unfamiliar with kombucha you may be wondering what it's like. The bottles above taste like an iced tea mixed with berry, a bit fizzy and really clean and refreshing. It's yum honest!

And the bonus of making lots of bottles of kombucha is that you end up with lots of SCOBY's. When you make a batch a new yeast pancake forms on the top which you can separate when it's big enough and use to make a new batch of tea. Since we're away for Xmas I've put my SCOBY's in a jar covered with kombucha tea, they'll sit dormant in the fridge until I come home.

 So how's the balcony garden doing?

Thai pink egg tomatoes almost ready!

Zucchini and capsicum (looking a bit hot).

Legend tomato - just starting to form fruit.

Two heirloom Diggers tomatoes.

Cucumbers which are growing along the wire nicely. 

And lastly.. Christmas. I had a goal this year of making Christmas as simple, ethical, and home made as possible. Now that my shopping and making is done - how did I do?

My first challenge was to make gift bags rather than buy wrapping paper. I've done pretty well. All but three or four presents from us to the kids and each other are in bags. I ran out of time at the end so we have a present or two for the kids in paper. Next year I'll make a couple more and we should be sorted. Jemima and Ben made their own using stencils and stamps and I sewed them up.

As far as gifts go, most of them were hand made by me. It's a cheap way of doing things but it does take planning and a lot of time. I made Jemima some clothes and a beach bag out of a vintage towel, and I made Ben an explorers satchel and a quilt for his bed. My nephews are all receiving home made presents too. For the bought presents I used the Oxfam shop for one person and I bought lots of books. The kids have one toy each under the tree that isn't particularly eco friendly or educational but it was what they'd asked for.. and it is Christmas after all! So while I wasn't 100% on track with my goal, I was definitely more mindful when buying things and I think it helped to distance myself from the mad consumerism and craziness out there at this time of year.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas season, I hope it's a special time with your family full of fun and good things.

x Becs


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