Growing a Kombucha SCOBY and Making Your Own Kombucha

Grow Your Own SCOBY and Brew Your Own Kombucha Easily at Home // Lavender & Honey

Kombucha (kom-bu-cha) is tea that has been fermented with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast),  typically fermented for seven to ten days. Kombucha, if fermented and bottled properly, should be naturally carbonated and is a wonderful and healthy replacement to sugary sodas.

Sadly, as is common in America, very few studies have been done on kombucha due to nobody standing to make a profit for something that is easy to make and costs only pennies a batch. However, kombucha has been used for a couple thousand years in other countries with many claimed health benefits. It has been known to improve digestion, metabolism, immune system, appetite control, weight control, liver function, body alkalinity, anti-aging, detoxing, cell integrity, and healthy skin and hair. It is also believed to help with acne, acid reflux, prevention of cancer, reducing the risk of arthritis, and increasing energy. You can use kombucha in place of apple cider vinegar in many cases and still get the same health benefits as you would’ve from the ACV, such as in the treatment of gallbladder attacks. If you are interested in reading more about kombucha’s health benefits you might want to start here and here

Many of those who become interested in kombucha start by buying it at health food stores, which at several dollars a bottle can become expensive very quickly. Thankfully you can brew your own sweet tea and ferment it with a kombucha SCOBY. Now, you can buy a SCOBY online, however I much prefer to grow my own. 

Bottled kombucha // Lavender & Honey

 Start by buying a bottle of GT’s Synergy kombucha, which is my favorite brand. When I do this I usually buy two, one to drink (above picture) and one to grow a SCOBY (below picture).

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 Pour the kombucha evenly into two small glass cups or jars. Cover jar with a small cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place on a shelf where it will not be disturbed for several days.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 I start checking mine on day three. You want to watch for the SCOBY to grow about 1/4 inch thick. Mine are usually ready day four-six.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 photo IMG_5075wm_zps393b9249.jpg

 photo IMG_5077wm_zps27325729.jpg

 Place SCOBY(s) in a three liter glass container, along with the excess kombucha, which will help with the fermentation process. 

 photo IMG_5083wm_zpsa7b9d5a6.jpg

 To brew your tea boil three liters of water on the stove along with 3/4 cup of sugar. Once the water reaches a boil turn the stove off and add three-four black tea bags, allow to brew for 15 minutes then remove bags. I use decaf tea due to caffeine being a trigger for seizures. Let the tea sit for a few hours until it reaches near room temperature so as not to kill the healthy bacteria of the SCOBY. If you are worried about the sugar most of it is used up during the fermentation process, so there will be very little left by the time you drink it. If that still concerns you, some have been able to make it with honey; however many have also reported that using other sweeteners may cause it to take longer to ferment and then becomes sour. 

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 After your tea is cooled add it to your jar which contains the leftover kombucha and SCOBY, cover with a cloth, and secure with string, or a simple elastic headband (as used above).

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 Allow your kombucha to ferment for seven to ten days, tasting it until it reaches your desired flavor. Once ready you can begin the bottling and second fermentation.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 Every batch of kombucha should result in a new SCOBY. They are not always pretty and even, as pictured above, but unless you see mold growing it should be perfectly healthy. It’s also rare for mold to grow, because as long as you provide food for the fermentation (sugar and a little leftover kombucha), have a SCOBY, and ferment it for the recommended period of time it should be healthy. Learn from my mistake though, do not abandon your SCOBY for months at a time, because that will cause it to mold and you will have to start over.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 To bottle your kombucha you can use mason jars, leftover kombucha bottles, but I prefer these with the locking tops. 

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & Honey

 Fill up the bottles most of the way with kombucha, leaving a little room if flavoring is desired.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & HoneyFill up the bottle the rest of the way with desired juice. The above is a guava, apple, ginger juice which I made. If not using juice as a flavoring fill up the bottle most of the way with kombucha leaving about 1/2 inch room for air, and leave plain or add berries.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & HoneyMy new favorite flavoring tastes like apple pie. Fill up bottle most of the way with kombucha, leaving a couple extra inches of space to add organic (the flavoring of the organic is important here) apple juice and a small cinnamon stick.

Growing Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // LAvender & HoneyTightly seal bottles and store on the shelf for two-four days for the second fermentation process, which gives time for the kombucha to fully absorb the flavors and to become fizzy. Afterwards store in the fridge.

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY // Lavender & HoneyMake sure to leave a little kombucha leftover in your jar for the next fermentation. Start the process over by making more tea, filling the jar all the way, and allowing it to ferment again.

I hope this shows just how easy it is to make your own kombucha at home! While my favorite flavor is the apple pie, there are many options. You can add blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries with sliced ginger and lemon juice, ginger and lemon, lemon and lime, hibiscus, dried cherries or cranberries, etc. There are many options if you want to be creative!  

What are some of your favorite flavors of kombucha? I would love to get to know you down in the comments bellow!

Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults

Sensory Processing Disorder, or Sensory Integration Disorder; It’s not talked about much. Occasionally you may hear of a child who has this, but rarely of adults. Sadly, I don’t believe this problem gets enough recognition, especially for adults, which can make life harder for those of us who have it. Do you know someone who cringes when you touch them? Covers their ears and tries to leave the room when certain music is playing? Or avoids things that most people consider fun such as parties, concerts, large groups of people, or theaters? All of these, and many more, can be symptoms of SPD. 

When I was around four I was diagnosed with both SPD and Auditory Processing Disorder. At the time we did not know the cause of this, but now looking back and knowing that it can be caused by diseases, we believe it was an early onset symptom of my Lyme (which was unknowingly passed to me while my mom was still pregnant with me). This made my childhood difficult in many areas for both myself and those around me. I would constantly pull off socks and shoes because the texture overstimulated me and my brain could not handle it. I was sensitive to many touches, but that also meant I craved touch because I could not get it in ways most people do. 

For a short time I went to an occupational therapist which helped me learn how to cope with it, and over the years my SPD bothered me less and less. For a long time I still would not wear jeans because of the way the denim hit my feet, I would not wear socks, and I was sensitive to most music, but for the most part I got along without paying much attention to it. That all changed several years back, when my Lyme started attacking my brain. For days I was stuck in bed with a fan blowing pointing at the wall to block out sounds but not blow on me, earplugs in, wrapped in a soft blanket, and unable to eat without gagging. Thankfully it only lasted that badly for a few days, though occasionally it still gets that bad. It can be very difficult, and I have to fight against it everyday. 

I’ve tried looking into dealing with SPD in adulthood, but sadly could not find much. I did read a book on SPD, but was only able to find books centered on children, so much of the information was not applicable. It was a wonderful resource and I loved learning why I’ve always done certain things, but I do wish there had been more to help me

While it can be difficult to deal with all my senses overwhelming my brain, there are a few things I’ve found to help, and I hope sharing them here can help others.

  • Essential Oils: I’ve found Peace & Calming by Young Living to be the most helpful. However, the Young Living brand does carry a hefty price tag, so often I make do with lavender or other stress blends by more reasonably priced brands. I’m hoping to soon create my own blend similar to Peace & Calming, and if I do so I will share the recipe here.
  • Dry Brushing: This helps with the craving of deep touch which those with SPD often are unable to get due to our sensitivity. If I apply lavender oil to the dry brush and use it before bed it can also help me settle down and helps the bedding irritate me less.
  • Keep it Comfortable: Try to avoid clothing that will keep you on edge, because if there is a loud noise or something else that sets you off, it will be hard to stay calm and clear headed if you have the added stress of uncomfortable clothing. The same goes for bedding. I’ve always hated sheets, and still do. Instead of a sheet I use a soft blanket.
  • Use Weight: When I was little I had a large snake weighted with beans. When my SPD was bothering me I would wear it around my neck and that weight helped me greatly. Now I use a wrist support for the computer, though I’m considering making my own with cute soft fabric to fill with beans or rice. There have been a few times when it was necessary to wear this out and about, but at times like that I’ve been able to disguise it with a scarf.
  • Music: Due to SPD and APD I’ve always been very choosy on what music I could handle (thankfully this is something I’m continuously able to improve), but there is some music that just relaxes me immediately and makes me feel immensely better. I find it helpful to keep an mp3 player and earbuds with me so that if I’m overwhelmed I can easily listen to music and tune all other sounds out. The music I found most helpful is Owl City, Mindy Gledhill’s album Anchor, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I love the lyrics to all of those songs, but what really helps me usually is the sound of the music. I’m not sure what it is about it, but each of them has something about the way they sound which releases my stress.
  • Sweaters and Sleeveless Tops: Often when my senses are overwhelming me I find either a comfortable sweater or a sleeveless top necessary. Either I need something covering my whole arms or nothing touching them. The same goes for wrist warmers. I received a lovely pair for Christmas and often when I feel like I just can’t handle anything (including the air) touching me any longer I find putting the wrist warmers on greatly helps. The wonderful thing about these wrist warmers is that the fabric is soft, they are beautiful, and I can wrap them very tightly.

Besides this I don’t really know of anything else I can do for my SPD and APD, other than avoiding triggers, but all of these things can be very useful. I hope that these tips will help someone else out there. You can start learning more about SPD in adults here, or about SPD in children here.

Have you or someone else close to you had any experience with SPD? Do you have any helpful tricks?

 

Yes, I did edit this again. Apparently that’s what’s needed when you originally write and edit a post during the middle of the night with Lyme brain.

When I Don’t Write…

I get rather sick of seeing the same picture of myself on social media sites, so this is my most recent change.

I get rather sick of seeing the same picture of myself on social media sites, so this is my most recent change.

A month has gone by and I’ve not written a single blog post. It’s hard for me to fathom, because during that time I kept wanting to write, but I would just freeze and not know what to write. It’s weird when that happens, it’s not that I have a lack of thoughts but just a lack of knowing how to get them on the page.

My theory is that this is caused majorly due to my Lyme. My Lyme makes it hard to consistently find times when I feel up to writing, but it also keeps me locked up inside and often in bed or on the couch. This feeling of being cooped up and unable to do much makes me unsure of how to communicate with others. I get too used to dreaming and keeping my thoughts to myself (introverted much?) and I start to forget to share them, and then when I try to I suddenly get stage fright. As if all eyes, regardless if it’s just one pair, are on me.

In the past I have found that having a routine and a to-do list has greatly helped me, so I will try to get back to that. While I don’t like schedules and their rigidity, I do like to have a basic flexible routine. Writing is something that I’m passionate about, which means it will be one of the first things to find a place in my routine, hopefully. Another thing which I believe will help me is watching vlogs (video blog). It may sound odd, but it helps me feel as if I’m connecting with other people and therefore help me share more here.

It’s not always easy to write regularly with brain fog, seizures, and what not affecting my brain, but it’s something I love and am willing to fight more to achieve. 

I would love to hear what helps you write when you are stuck! Do you have any favorite vlogs? Please write below to let me know!

Monday Playlist: The Feels

The Feels

This week I’m in the mood for the sad songs. The songs that give me chills or make me cry. The songs that make me feel more. Here’s a playlist I assembled of twelve songs that do just that. I enjoyed it all day yesterday, and I hope it will improve your Monday.

“I love old things, they make me sad.It’s happiness for deep people” -Sally Sparrow, Doctor Who Blink

 

  1. Ronan -Taylor Swift
  2. Human -Christina Perri
  3. If I Die Young -The Band Perry
  4. Forever and Always -Parachute 
  5. Somebody That I Used To Know -Jake Coco and Madilyn Bailey 
  6. The Scientist -Coldplay
  7. Kiss it Better -He Is We
  8. Safe and Sound -Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars
  9. Lonely Lullaby -Owl City
  10. Miss Invisible -Marié Digby 
  11. Say Something -Penatonix
  12. We Remain Christina Aguilera 

Click here to listen to this playlist on Youtube.

On a side note, the above picture is of Caroline during our Snow White photo shoot we took on her birthday last week. I plan on sharing more of the photos and details from her birthday later this week. 

What are some of your favorite songs that evoke strong emotions? 

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

All three of my sisters are gluten-free, some of them having many more foods they have to avoid as well. Often this causes only some of them to be able to have something I bake. This year for Valentine’s Day I wanted to make something they could all enjoy, even Hannah who is on the strictest diet.

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

My creation? Extremely soft and chewy sugar cookies, even if overcooked, with a great sugar cookie flavor and a slight tang from the sour cream, and all over delicious. These were such a hit that I decided to make them again the other day when Sarah was requesting cookies. For Valentines day I cut them into heart shapes and sandwiched buttercream frosting between them. This time I let Sarah cut out some dinosaur shapes and cut the rest of the dough into clovers for St. Patrick’s Day. While I prefer the buttercream for these cookies I went with a cream cheese icing (due to being out of butter) and decorated some of the cookies with green sprinkles. 

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

While I’ve never celebrated Mardi Gras and all the heavy partying that goes with it, I do enjoy having the traditional king cake and like the idea of doing small things for it, such as baked goods, as a fun reminder that I’m from South Louisiana. If you want a Mardi Gras themed baked good this year (Mardi Gras falls on March 4th this year) these would also be a great treat, and easier than baking a king cake. You can find Mardi Gras mask cookie cutters on Amazon and even natural sprinkles! To make Mardi Gras cookies use the mask cutter and once the cookies are cooled top with buttercream icing and decorate with purple, green, and gold sprinkles. 

Super Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

Gluten-Free Soft Sugar Cookies
A super soft sugar cookie that everyone can enjoy, even those on a gluten, egg, or soy free diet!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
5 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
5 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup room temperature butter
  2. 1 cup sour cream
  3. 2 Tbsp ground chia
  4. 6 Tbsp warm water
  5. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  6. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 tsp almond extract
  8. 4 cups gluten-free flour (I used Pamela's pancake and biscuit mix)
  9. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  10. 3/4 tsp baking soda
  11. 1/2 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment beat butter and sour cream until well combined and creamy. In a small bowl combine chia and warm water with a fork until the consistency of an egg. Add to the butter mixture along with the sugar and extracts. Beat until combined.
  2. Add gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix on slow speed until completely combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer, place dough in a container, and chill 4+ hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350f. Prep your cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat to prevent sticking. Lay out a cutting board, top with wax paper, and sprinkle liberally with gluten-free flour to prevent sticking. Due to these cookies being gluten-free the dough can be rather sticky so it takes more flour than regular cookies. Place half of the dough on your work surface and roll out to 1/4 inch with a rolling pin. Place cutters on the dough, press down, and slightly wiggle the cookie cutter while bringing it back up to help get a clean cut and to help the dough release from the cutter. Finish cutting out dough, then with a spatula lift the cut cookies and place them on your cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown, place cookies on a cooling rack until completely cooled. Serve as is or decorate with buttercream icing and sprinkles.
Notes
  1. Cookie yield will vary depending on size of cookie cutters.
Lavender & Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/