DIY

DRUM BEAT - a prayer for the earth

A mandala honoring the four directions: in the east, where the sun rises, we find the bell, the connection to the mental realm. The south where our physical body lays is the direction of the drum, the connection to our heart beat and it's incessant rhythm. In the west, click-sticks remind us of our emotions and the tools we have to liberate them. The north is our spiritual connection, where our ancestors lay, the place for the rattle, the cleansing sound.

The beating of the rattle breaks up stagnant energy that blocks the natural flow within our bodies. Is the sound of the rain, of purification. The possibility for a clean start and a new beginning with endless possibilities.

This drum is a prayer. A prayer for the earth. A prayer for women and men. A prayer so we can find our voices, connect to our heart beats and our breath. A prayer for the holiness of our bodies, the sacredness of our dance, the power of our voice. A prayer for more love. A prayer for less pain. 

No Winter Blues Lavender-Infused Oil

Today has been one of those bitter cold winter days that make me feel homesick and dream of warmth, sunshine and sand in my toes. To fight the winter blues I decided to play in the kitchen. I spent all morning making soup, juices, lotion, kombucha and straining some lavender infused oil I had made some weeks ago. Just smelling the oil made me feel good! There's something about lavender that's so comforting and warm, perfect for late February in NY. 

I use the oil in the bath, as moisturizer, to make lotion and soap. I also mix it with water and spray a bit in my pillow if I am having trouble falling asleep. I love the smell of lavender and its many healing properties, especially when it comes to relaxation.

Want to tune into the lavender love and get rid of these winter blues that seem to be so contagious? To make the oil simply:

  • Use 1 oz of dried lavender to 4 oz of oil by liquid measure
  • Get rid of all the stems and use a mortero to crush the herbs into a powder
  • Place the freshly crushed herbs in a 6 oz glass jar and pour 4 oz of cold pressed olive oil
  • Stir until the herbs are saturated and close with a tight lid
  • Shake the jar daily and allow to steep for 3 to 6 weeks
  • When ready strain the oil using a strainer or a cheese-cloth. The more you squeeze and press the more oil you'll get but expect to have about a 20% loss of liquid

The herbs should look and feel very dry after you finish squeezing the oil out. I usually save them and use them to make a face/body scrub but you can also use them for a facial steam or add them to a warm bath. 

Who knew that a scary looking bacteria could make us so happy?

As part of our wedding gift, our friends that live in Bali brought us a Kombucha Scoby when they came to NY in September. We were excited to finally be able to make our own and appreciated the efforts they made to smuggle a live bacteria across 2 continents. But were also ahem - a little intimidated by the looks of it. 

It took us a while to figure out how to make it work, what fruit to use, how to make it bubbly and what are the best flavors, but now it seems like the scoby is in good hands and we're enjoying the daily kombucha love. Who knew that a scary looking bacteria could make us so happy?

What is Kombucha? the short answer is that it is a fermented tea.  The long one? It's a probiotic drink that contains enzymes, antioxidants and amino-acids. It has been associated with many health benefits. Promotes healthy gut bacteria that support our digestion and immune system. Detoxes our liver and improves our pancreatic function. It can help us get rid of yeast which is beneficial especially if you suffer from candida. And it has been associated with increased energy levels and improved mood. Sounds good huh?

It's easy to buy kombucha in NY now but it can get expensive if you're looking to make it part of your diet. If you love kombucha and want to save money then start making your own! Here are some easy steps you can follow to get started.  

You'll need:

  • One gallon of water 
  • 6 Black tea bags
  • 1 cup of white processed sugar
  • A scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast)
  • Fruit to taste

For the first fermentation:

  • Add the tea bags to 1 gallon of boiling water. Let it steep for about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the cup of sugar
  • Wait until it cools to room temperature
  • Transfer the tea to a glass jar and add the scoby
  • Cover the container with a kitchen towel to allow for the aerobic fermentation to take place and store away from the light
  • Allow the tea to ferment for about 3 weeks (the scoby likes the warmth so the time needed will change depending on the season, it will ferment very quickly in the summer and more slowly in the winter)

Important: When touching the scoby make sure you're hands are clean and never touch it with metal. Keep in mind the scoby has no protection for UV rays so should always be away from the light. 

You'll know the kombucha is ready when you can't taste the sugar but note it shouldn't taste like vinegar either. If you let it ferment for too long you'll need to start the process again: add more water/tea/sugar and wait.

Once the first fermentation is ready you can take the scoby out and store the kombucha in the fridge. It will keep for weeks but I recommend drinking it soon to avoid new bacteria from growing. 

If you want the kombucha to be bubbly or to taste like fruit you'll need to do a Second Fermentation:

  • Add 3/4 of kombucha to an air tight glass jar 
  • Add the fruit juice and leave a bit of room for air and to avoid overflow
  • Wait 2-4 days (again the time will change depending on the season) until the kombucha is bubbly and has been infused with the fruit
  • Transfer to the fridge and drink over ice!

Some of my favorite fruit combinations so far have been:

  • Pineapple, ginger, raspberry
  • Raspberry, blueberry, lemon
  • Pineapple, pear, apple, raspberry, blackberry
  • Pear, ginger, blueberry, lemon

Tips:

  • The sweeter the fruit, the more bubbles you'll get 
  • If possible use a juicer to avoid the pulp
  • For fruits that are difficult to juice like berries I recommend adding them whole to the kombucha instead of blending them

Share in the comments if you have a favorite kombucha flavor or a different recipe - I'd love to experiment more. 

Cheers, drink up!