Friday, December 16, 2016

What I've learned about Kombucha.

Last Spring, my daughter spent a semester as an intern at a Young Life camp in Colorado. It was there that she learned about Kombucha. When I visited her in March, she encouraged me to taste it. But before I tasted it, I smelled it, and from there I needed to know what in the world it was.

She talked about the benefits to your body, mind and immune system. She talked about black tea, and sugar, and scobys, and about how" the mother" had to grow and evolve for weeks before being made into a valuable fermented drink. 

I was intrigued, but at $4.85 per 16 oz bottle, I wasn't sure I wanted to invest. I finally took a chance on a minty flavored Kombucha locally brewed and sold in the cutest local market. The bottle was pretty enough to make up for the taste in case I didn't like it, but in fact, I loved it and sipped it until was gone.

After returning home, it seemed that I was more in tune to noticing Kombucha in markets and even large grocery chains. My husband had tried a few flavors and had purchased bottles to store in our refrigerator. 

Recently, he found a brewery that brews their own beer and Kombucha and this has been the game changer. Kombucha on tap. A brewery where you can sample a flight of flavors from watermelon to lavendar all while playing corn hole, listening to live music and eating tacos from a food truck. You can even bring your dog and stay to watch a Panthers game. 

Every week, my husband refills his growler of Kombucha on the day he gets the discount. His flavor of choice is "Wake Up Call", but the "Sweet Potato" is my favorite. Last week, our family stopped by after dinner and we shared a flight of 6, taste testing and blind fold guessing. An entertaining game. 

What is Kombucha exactly?

I am no expert, but from what I've been told...Kombucha is a fermented drink made with a colony of bacteria and yeast, and either black or green tea. It is carbonated and contains sugar, enzymes, vinegar, vitamin b, and probiotics to name a few. It has been called both a "cocktail of good bacteria" and "the immortal health elixir."

What are the benefits of Kombucha?

The fermented drink is helpful to detox the body, boost the immune system, promote digestion, reduce anxiety, increase energy, aide in weight loss, reduce joint pain and other symptoms related to autoimmune diseases, and even prevent and treat cancer.

Before I left Colorado, my daughter was already talking about growing her own scoby and making her own Kombucha. Recently, my sweet friend posted on facebook that she had scobys to share and to come and get your starter kit. Regular people brewing in thier kitchens and in their laundry rooms.

If you're not up to brewing, but want to try it out, look for Kombucha in your local market. Whole Foods, Fresh Market and even Harris Teeter have a few to get your started.
It's safe to say, I'm on board for the health benefits...and thanks to my husband and Lenny Boy Brewery, there is a growler full of something fabulous in our fridge each week.

Friday, October 21, 2016

How to host a Mug Swap!

The idea of a mug swap makes my heart happy. I love coffee and in my opinion, it always tastes better when served in a mug!

I am a nurse. I work night shift on a Mother/Baby unit and every year around this time, we get really busy! Think back nine months and you'll remember it was very cold.... and also -Valentine's Day! You get it! 

So to help us get through the baby boom season, we add a little pick me up to the regular work routine by having a secret mug swap! It's fairly easy to organize and everyone who participates seems to really enjoy it. This was our second year swapping and we had over 45 participants.

Here's how it works...
Invite co-workers to sign up to participate.
Match names randomly, making sure no one has themselves and no two participants have each other. 
If you are participating have an outsider do the match up and keep a list of who has who in case there are problems later.

Ask participants to post a list of their favorites and some ideas for their secret giver. Ideas include what they will use their mug for, their favorite candy, what they like to collect and other fun ideas. 

Then pick a period of time for the swap.
We play for 4 weeks. The first three weeks, you will get your secret partner a small treat (candy bar, stickers, notepad...)  and then during the last week, you will reveal yourself with a coffee mug filled with goodies! 

We set a dollar limit at 25.00 for the entire 4 weeks. Most people spend more...but at least they know the limit.

Facebook is a great way to set it up if you have a work Facebook group. The participants can post photos of their gifts and thank their muggers! 

Of course, this kind of mug swap would also be fun for neighbors, friends, classmates or any other community. 

Here are a few photos from our recent swap. 
A mug swap is a wonderful way to get to know more about your co-workers, boost morale, get excited about sharing with your work friends...and enjoy a new mug filled with yummy treats!

If you have participated in something similar at work or in another group of friends, please share your experience. What other ways have you found to boost morale or spark a fire when things are busy or mundane?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Blogging from my phone.

In January of this year, I begged many of my blogging friends to consider getting back to blogging. 
Then... I continued to hang out on Instagram with longish captions and planned out posts instead. 
In these days of mobile apps and hand held tablets, I realize I have neglected to blog mainly because it just took too much effort. Being at home, finding the laptop, disconnecting it from someone's TV that used it the previous night to watch Netflix, finding the cord to plug it in, and finally sitting down to type out words and edit photos after transferring them from the phone I've been holding in my hand all day! 
Now I'm on to the blogger app. Seems like the last time I tried it, I was afraid of it and a little confused. But just this minute, I am thrilled. For daughter texted me these fun fair photos. I saved them on my phone. I posted them here and now I'm tapping out these words with one finger, and the auto correct is doing its thing. So nice! 

Here's to getting back to it!
Do you blog on your phone? Tell me you haven't been doing it (this easy) all year. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Can we just get back to blogging?

I used to be a blogger.

A pot of coffee would be waiting as I returned home from dropping my kids off in front of the school. I poured a cup, added my favorite creamer for the season, and headed to my desktop for an hour or so of community. 

I wrote blog posts. I read blog posts. I commented. I responded to comments. I linked up. I blog hopped... and you know the rest.

Before I knew it, I was out of time and even though I wanted to continue mingling around in that wonderful community full of inspiration, DIY projects, crock pot recipes and friendly conversations, I had to get on with my actual day, the one waiting for me with things I actually had to do and people that I could actually see and touch and talk to in person. 

Blogging was a time sucker, Yes.... then Instagram came along and was easier, requiring only a LIKE instead of a thought out comment. A quick photo from your phone and a short caption kept you in the loop. So with more demands of my time from work, kids and other activities, combined with the ease of the like button, and less comments from my own readers, I (like many) blogged less, even less, and then hardly ever.

Some of the things I miss the most...

I thought more about taking photos. I took more photos of my kids in every day moments. I stopped the car when I saw a rainbow, or a pretty front porch decorated for the fall to sneak a photo. I noticed things more.

I wrote more stories. I wrote about experiences, even if I didn't have a photo to go with it. I wrote about myself and thought about things that I would not have normally thought about. I had a scrapbook of memories that was mostly up to date. I could look at it anywhere and show it to anyone. 

I gave myself deadlines and worked hard to meet them. I felt more intentional in my every day living. I wanted to write material that would mean something to someone, so that meant that at times I had to do things or watch things or try things just to write about them. 

I made friends with some amazing people. Its funny to think about how commenting on blog posts and sharing in an online community for months can yield a deeper connection that living next door to someone that you hardly see.

For a while now, I have been trying to talk myself into writing a blog post. I have seen a few other "used to be bloggers" getting back to it, as well. Some have been "blogging" in their Instagram captions and might as well post a series, you know? 

I want to get back to it. 
If you used to be a blogger, I want you to get back to it too.

For the love of coffee... And books!

There once was a time when we couldn't force her to read.

She loved being read to, but would not do it alone.

In the ninth grade, Emily read To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Walk to Remember and the first few chapters of Twilight so, I thought she might be on her way.

Soon afterward, however, she purchased her first iphone and then it was Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest that monopolized her reading list.

Things are different now. This morning we drove uptown to a very special coffee shop called Julia's Cafe and Books. It is the most fabulous little used bookstore. It calls to your sense of adventure and mystery. It causes you to want to read. It smells like coffee and books, and old things and leather. It is full of people searching the shelves or sitting and chatting with friends over a blueberry scone and Chai tea.
 The books are priced so that you leave with many. Books selling in Barnes and Noble at full price are going for 3 for $10. Paperbacks for .99. It is incredible.  The books are all donated and the profits support Habitat for Humanity, which is housed in the same building. When you finish reading the books, their hope is that you'll donate them back. What a lovely concept it is.

Emily walked around the shelves with her cinnamon something or another latte, looking up titles on her cell phone, searching by author and subject, and making a huge stack of possibilities. She stopped at 11 after eliminating a few more.  She wanted them all. Some of them she chose for the content, and others she chose because they were "pretty"and "would look great on her bookshelves one day."

I am more practical when it comes to books. I buy what I think I will have time to read.  After all, I can always return for more coffee and books.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Graduations all around!

Everyone graduated this year! Zac from Elementary school, Jonathan from Middle School and Emily from High School. We had a super busy week! 

Jonathan was first!
Zac was next!
Then we had a backyard party....that got rained out!
So everything and everyone had to come inside!
 Tons and tons of presents!
Then Emily had her turn! 

We made it!
Congratulations all around!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Re-takes for a new look!

Last fall, Emily had some amazing senior photos taken by a legitimate photographer. We were all set to order the graduation announcements. Then, Emily got her hair cut... a new look, and wanted to take more photos.  We waited until the last minute, of course, but we were able to get some really cute pics.

The announcements we chose were from Walgreens. They turned out really cute! I loved the mix of black and white photos of a younger Emily, with the color photo of the graduate Emily!
I cant believe this is actually happening!
Where did the time go?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Prom Love

Emily's senior prom was one for the record books....the most prom photos taken in one evening. This year was special because she was escorted by her boyfriend of 2 months, Alex, her very first boyfriend at that. We took photos at home, with friends and without, we took more photos at the farm up the road, and then even more with a large group of kids in uptown. I feel certain that there will not be as many photos taken at her wedding. Her boyfriend was a great sport. He had been warned.
Also...She is wearing the fifth (and final) dress that was purchased for this event. The first 2 dresses were bought on major clearance at Belk. By major, I mean 19.80, marked down from 275.00. Yes! They were gorgeous, but both would have to be altered.... a lot!  The next 2 dresses were ordered.  When they arrived, she loved them both and had almost decided which one to keep and which one to return, when she headed to NYC for a school field trip. And it was there that she found this dress. It was hanging in the window at Anthropology. She spotted it and knew that it was the one. She called me to ask if she could use the "for emergencies only" credit card to purchase the "dress of her dreams"....and she would return the others as soon as she got home. It was less expensive than what seemed to be her favorite, and who was I to crush her dreams, right?
The boutonniere was carefully chosen. Emily wanted something different, that would match the style of her dress. We found it on etsy at Bohemian Bouquets. We sent the stylist a photo of the dress and she created the perfect combination of succulents and flowers. Emily said Alex got tons of compliments on it all night.
That night, they had dinner at a fun restaurant in uptown with 22 of their fancy friends. They walked to the frozen yogurt store, and then headed to the prom where they danced until the dance floor was closed. They finished the evening at one of the kids home playing games and eating a late night, very early morning breakfast. The next day, Emily slept until 4 p.m.

The night was just as Emily had hoped it would be.
Don't they make the cutest couple?
Prom love. Sweet times!