Friday, September 27, 2013

The secrets behind Ayurveda

Tea? Don't mind if I do.

If you know me, I swear by chamomile. It's my preferred drug of choice. You may laugh... but literally anytime I get sick... I just sip on some of that and I'm cured.

So, a couple of days ago, I drove past my favorite little nursery and saw they were hosting a tea making class. Naturally, I was intrigued. This was right up my alley. I couldn't wait! Not to mention, the woman giving the talk was my favorite tea maker in STL, The ReTrailer.

Lisa began making her own tea once she had heard about Ayurveda at a yoga training. Ayurveda is the Sanskrit word for "knowledge of life." She handed out flyer about her practice, here is a little blurb from it.
"According the Ayurvedic principles, every aspect of life-the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual- contributes to your overall health. By balancing these elements and addressing the body as a whole, Ayurveda restores the equilibrium when you're ill and keeps your body's natural defense system strong when you're healthy." 

So, everyone has their own dosha. You can be a Vata, Pitta or a Kapha.
- Vatas being visionary, imaginative, full of energy. Spacey anxious and uptight.
- Pittas being confident, passionate, organized and fiery. Typically strong and have fast digestion. When in balance, they're very dependable.
- Kaphas tend to be loyal, kind hearted and love their sleep. Tend to crave things that aren't really healthy for you... but they should be eating veggies and fruits.

You can take this quiz to find out which one fits your body. But if your name is Amanda Jackson, you shouldn't bother taking the quiz. You're a Vata. I'm a mixture of Kapha and Vata.

Tea suggestions for Vatas:

  • Relaxing and grounding blends. 
    • Grounding herbs (earthy) 
    • Fall foods: kale potato and roots
  • Chamomile,
  • Dandelion root 
  • Rose
  • Hibiscus tea
  • Apple/cinnamon/ allspice blend
  • Rosemary 
Tea suggestions for Pittas:
  • Cooling and relaxing blends:
  • Spearmint
  • Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Cucumber
  • Lavender 
  • Sage
  • Fennel 
Tea suggestions for Kaphas:
  • Stimulating blends:
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Floral teas
  • Lavender
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
Tips to make fresh herb tea:
- You'll need more herbs then you think you will! Herbs release more essential oils once dried, so if you're using fresh... add more! 
- Cover the pot while brewing or not drinking. This will keep more essential oils in. They are released when water is cooling off. 
- Cut off the herb at the greenest part. Place the herb in a pot and poor water over it! If you're using lemongrass, just cut off about 6 inches. If you're using a root, make sure to submerge the root- not the flower or leaf. 

Tips to make dry herb tea: 
- Snip plant, dry it, crunch it up. Crunching it releases essential oils. 
- To dry, bundle your plants and hang upside down. Keep in dark place for 3-7 days. The herbs should be stored in an airtight container which is stored in a cool dark place. They can last for 6 months. 
- Be weary of tea shops that store teas in clear containers.
- When brewing, cover the top of the pot! 

Ice Tea:
- Double the batch of herbs, when it is cool the tea will lose flavor.
- Rosemary, Rose, Fennel, Spearmint, Floral or Cucumber are great ideas for iced tea. 

Water temp.: 
- Florals should have a lower temperature. Bring the water to a boil and then set aside before brewing. 
- Hardy herbs (such as rosemary or sage) can withstand a rolling boil. Brew for about 10 minutes. 
- Roots can withstand anything. Rolling boil and brew for as long as you like. 

- Stiva is a natural sweetener. One leaf should be sweet enough... well, depending on how sweet you like your tea!
- Honey is great! Local honey is the best. Choose a flower honey (vs. a clove honey) to keep it a neutral taste. 
- Sucanat is one step removed from raw sugar. 

- Cheese cloth is great
- Paint strainer bags: come in bulk- and you can buy it from a local hardware store! 
- Normal mesh strainer. 

Great reasons to drink tea: 
- Lemongrass: anti-inflammatory, immune builder (helps with seasonal changes), reduces anxiety 
- Rosemary: Increases circulation 
- Spearmint: Musanogenic 
- Valerian Root: helps to calm you down, reduces anxiety.
- Jasmine: Reduces anxiety 
- Lavendar: Reduces anxiety, soothing, anti-bacterial 
- Chamomile: Reduces anxiety 
- Ginger: circulatory stimulant, helps with fevers, helps with nausea, eases arthritis

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Little Buffalo

Changing minds

It took me a little while to get into the whole buffalo skull on your wall trend. Actually, I didn't care for them until I found one hidden in my dad's barn. There it hung on a rusted nail, covered with an inch of dust. As soon as I saw it, I was climbing over dressers and rotted lumber to grab ahold of it! That sounds like an exaggeration, but unfortunately it's not. Matt may or may not have rolled his eyes at me once he saw what I was after. (But now it's hung on our wall... and he likes it. Thus, I win.)

A while ago (who knows how long) my dad snagged a lot of Central High School's slate roofing. The palates have been sitting in the barn as well... When I saw them, I grabbed four pieces and brought them home to St. Louis.

The plan: Hang my buffalo skull on my wall. The dilemma: How?

- Skull
- Slate or wood
- Hydrogen peroxide 
- Water 
- 5 gallon bucket 
- Drill 
- Mollies
- Screws 
- Level
- Scissors 

Before I did anything, I cleaned the skull. I soaked it in a 5 gallon bucket with water and hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. After that, I let it air dry in the sun for 48 hours.

My clean little buffalo. 

We decided to hang the slate behind the skull, this would create a picture-like effect. The skull wasn't in perfect condition, but neither was the slate- so we played the imperfections up. 

Grabbing old rags, Matt and I cleaned the slate to show the natural color better. Some were green, some purple, some grey. Neat-o. 

Next, my handyman Matt, started drilling holes into our walls. We decided to use mollies, which allow you to hang something anywhere- without finding a stud. Leveling each individual rectangle as he went. 

Slate is surprisingly easy to drill through... I wouldn't know. But Matt informed me. 

After all of the slate was hung, I wrapped wire around two holes in the skull. The wire then hung on two screws which were drilled into the slate. 

Then we were finished! Easy peasy! Now we have a unique center piece in our apartment. All from my  dad's barn! 
See that cute coat rack  and bookshelf?!

Oh! Look how cute my new coffee table and arrangement is?? I'm in love with these coffee table 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Not your typical iced tea

There's enough sweetness for everyone:

I'm currently in an awkward transition. I couldn't be more excited for fall; yet I want to hold on to summer. So as I make my gourds for fall, but I also brew sweet tea for summer. I mean... it may be fall, but it's still 80 degrees outside. So that's justifiable, right?

The Tabor family is kind of famous for sweet tea. Growing up, that's all I had. My mom had the perfect recipe. You may be thinking, "how hard is it to screw up sweet tea?" Well, it's easy to make bad tea. Actually, we could always tell if my mom had made tea or if it was my dad. No offense to my lovely father, but he didn't have the magic touch.

As I've grown older, I have started to appreciate different types of tea. It's come to the point that I actually prefer other teas over sweet iced tea. Currently, my go to is Early Grey; but I love a good Moroccan Mint, too.

But then, I came home one day and my mom had changed up her recipe for sweet tea. It had a bit of a twist to it, and I liked it. This is what she did:

- 2 lipton black tea bags
- 2 earl grey tea bags
- 1 spearmint tea bag
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pitcher
- water (one) 1 quart and (one) 3 quarts 

I enjoy this tea a lot because of the earl grey and spearmint... they add an unexpected twist to the normal sweet tea.

Like any type of tea, you first need to fill up your water to boil it. Some put it in the microwave, but personally, I think that's cheating. I like to boil mine on the stove. Since you don't want to be a cheater, put about 1 quart of water on the stove to be boiled.

Don't forget about your tea! I cannot tell you how many times I've let water boil out... I've come to the point that I almost need to set a reminder on my phone that I'm boiling water! Fire hazard right here. 


Once the water was boiling, take the water off the burner and brew the tea under a plate. Allow this to brew for 15 minutes. 

Next comes the sugar. My mom actually puts more sugar in, but McCallister's kind of ruined sweet tea for me, so I tend to make mine a little less sweet. 

(Thanks to my awesome friend, Natalie, for these super cute measuring cups!)

After 15 minutes, take out the tea bags. You don't want bitter tea! Then simply add the tea into the sugar (which is in the pitcher). This is important to do while the tea is still hot. If you let your tea cool too much, the sugar will not dissolve. There is nothing worse than ordering ice tea and adding your sugar while there is ice in the cup! It's just not going to work. 

Next, mix and add 3 quarts of warm water to the pitcher. This can be less or more water, depending on how strong you like your tea. 

And then put in the refrigerator to cool! It's perfect and great! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Decorated Gourds (for the fall)

Simply Charming:

Needless to say, now that we have finished Game of Thrones... I've got a little extra time on my hands. I try not to add up the hours I've sat on my couch watching HBO Go. Instead of thinking about the Red Wedding, I think of little things I can do around my house to keep me occupied.

If you know my family at all... well if you know my dad at all, you know he likes to collect things. He has about 1,000+ square feet of things he has collected. And they just sit. So this past weekend, I took it upon myself to give some of these knickknacks a space of their own.

My dad had great dried up gourds, everywhere. I don't know how many years these gourds have been sitting. But they were great. (And free for me!) According to my mother, to dry a gourd you just need to sit it inside and it will dry up naturally. How odd.

Last night was a perfect night to sit outside and craft. Matt had his hookah going and the pups were at our feet. Not to mention with fall weather calls for a fall (ish) craft.

Ingredients for decorated gourds: 
  • Dried up gourds
  • Shellack
  • Old paint brush (I threw mine away at the end) 
  • Dish soap
  • Old rag 
  • Embroidery Thread 
  • Scissors 

First and foremost, you have to pick your gourd. I chose mine based on shape and color. I liked the spotting and curves of my gourds. 

Since my gourds had been sitting in a shed for probably about 12 years, I decided to lightly clean them. Although, this is a good idea for anyone who is thinking about doing this project. I dampend wash rag and applied a bit of dish soap to the rag. Once the gourd was clean, I just let it air dry. 

To help preserve the gourd, I applied a thin layer of shellack. When the shellack was tacky but almost dry, I started with the embroidery thread. This keeps the start spot in place. No knots needed.

When I was done with one color, I just tied a small knot to the next color! You could just apply some more shellack to start a new color, but I sort of liked the knotted look. 

When you're finished, simply add a dab of shellack to tie it off! Yet again, a simple and easy little project. 


Friday, September 20, 2013

The Little Bookshelf That Could

Love is in the details 

Making an apartment feel like home isn't really that difficult, if you have the time. Matt and I had this huge empty wall to fill, but we didn't know quite what to put on it. Spending $$$ on a large piece of art  was not an option; so we opted for plan b, bookshelves.

These bookshelves are perfect because they're simple and inexpensive. They were great for us because we have a lot of things that don't have homes yet. We keep moving things around waiting for it to have the perfect spot, but I believe these things have found their home!

^^This one is actually zebra wood (we are making more bookshelves with this one). ^^
Bocote wood

When we bought wood at our little lumber shop for the coat rack, we went ahead and picked up extra to make bookshelves. They're simple, affordable, and cute. How perfect is that? 

Bookshelf ingredients: 

  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Stud finder (or the ability to find a stud)
  • Screws 
  • Wood (we chose Bocote Wood) 
  • Measuring tape
  • Level 
  • Shelf bracket
  • Spray paint (optional)
First and foremost, we wanted to spray paint our brackets black. We did this a day before, however as long as you wait until they're no longer sticky, you probably don't need to wait that long. 

Deciding where you want to put the bookshelves was our biggest dilemma. We thought we wanted them above our kitchen wall... however the studs do not exist. We spent a lot of time trying to make that spot work; but if there is no stud, it's just not going to happen. So we chose Plan B, our bedroom! 
(Can you say scruff?) 

Once we (happily) found the studs in our bedroom, we started to drill away. Well, Matt started drilling away. 

First, we drilled the brackets on to the appropriate spot. When we got the first screw in, we wanted to make sure the bracket was level. There is nothing worse than a slanted shelf! After both brackets were level, we placed the wood on top and penciled in where the appropriate holes were. 

When the little holes were penciled in, Matt took the drill bit and drilled holes. This is important to do with wood, so you don't split it with the screws. Be careful not to go through the wood though! Then, we placed the wood back on the brackets and screwed it into place!

We wanted two to fill up our large space. However, it could be a great statement piece with one extra long shelf. But, I would recommend another bracket. 

Bocote wood is so pretty! 
The finished product! 

 Matt's favorite animal is a moose. How great is this old leather bookend? 
 My friend Chelsea made this for our wedding. It's one of my favorite lyrics and the map is of the two places Matt and I have lived. What a perfect gift. 
I love my trinkets. This one is from my dad... to keep the mice away. Trinkets are my hidden treasures. Matt makes fun of me, but I believe love is in the details.