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Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
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Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
Continue Reading

I have a "thing" for kombucha. I just like it.  It's fizzy, like soda, but without all of the sugar. It's fruity, or gingery, depending on what flavor I'm in the mood for.  It's fermented, and fermented food is good for you.  I've been drinking the stuff for years, long before cool kids made it chic and Lindsay Lohan made it notorious.  

Kombucha is often referred to as a tea, but it's actually a cultured drink made by fermenting sweetened tea.  It's not just bacteria that are responsible for the process, but a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast--a SCOBY--most commonly referred to as the mother.  When momma meets sweet tea under optimal conditions, kombucha is born. Is it a miracle drink, a panacea for all health ailments, as its most rabid fans would like to think?  Probably not, but there's good evidence that cultured and fermented foods are teeming with all sorts of fun stuff that's good for you, beneficial bacteria especially.  

It's also, so they say, fairly easy to brew your own.  At $4+ a bottle that seems the obvious path to take here.  But brewing my own kombucha is something that even my die-hard, inner do-it-yourself-er hesitates and stutters over.  This SCOBY business...that's like an entire mini-ecosystem or something!  Brewing? Fermenting? Culturing?  Daunting.  Aside from a few mediocre attempts at making yogurt, fermented foods are something I've otherwise left up to others.  A simple Google search for "brewing kombucha" has done nothing to encourage me.  There's thousands of hits, all touting how easy it is to brew.  But everyone seems to do it a little bit differently, so exactly where do I start?  Over the past couple of years, I've made up my mind to try brewing my own dozens of times only to quit before I even start.  

Except this time, I actually did start the process of brewing my own, and I'm going to share my experience with those of you who are interested.  I'll write my experience as it occurs as a series of diaries.  Below the fold you'll find the first part of my adventure--the steps I have taken to start my very own SCOBY/mother from which to brew my own kombucha.  If all goes well, I'll share the next steps in the process as I use (hopefully) my own home-grown kombucha mother to brew my own.

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Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
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Maybe I'm unusual, but I actually find the chore of doing laundry personally satisfying.  I find it oddly relaxing; perhaps it appeals to that long-lost time in my life when I used to have time for clean, neat, and orderly.  But...I ran out of laundry soap the other day.  I often make my own, but one bottle of store-bought detergent bought for convenience turned into another, and then another, 'till a few days ago I decided that when my current bottle ran out I would just simply not allow myself to buy another. And thus, I took my love of nice, orderly laundry hostage.  "Either make that batch of laundry detergent," I bargained with myself, "or watch the clothesline site empty for the next several sunny days."  

The lonely clothesline will win.  I'm making the detergent today.  

So why am I taking up valuable space on the internets with talk of something so mundane as laundry?  Because unfortunately, laundry can be an incredibly wasteful chore in terms of energy and dollars spent.  We wash load after load in warm or hot water, in petrochemical-based suds shipped from god-knows-where, then toss them into that most inefficient beast of household appliances--the dryer--to finish the deed.  Fortunately, this also means there is quite a bit of room for improvement. Yes, most of the following is common sense, but if you're like me (see aforementioned discussion regarding my own laundry soap-making slacking), you need the occasional reminder and/or kick in the pants to do something about it.  So follow me below the fold for tips (and recipes!) to shave kWhs off your energy usage and save big-time dollars.

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Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.
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