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Quote About Dandelions

"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."

-- Hal Borland

Monday, June 30, 2014

Urban Farming and a Giveaway Winner!

I ♥ things I can do by myself. I'm not a headstrong, independent first-born for nothing! And furthermore, I like unconventional things I can do myself. So when I met some new friends that lived in the middle of the suburbs and kept rabbits and bees (y'all, they had a beehive on their roof!), I was super excited. I got inspired by reading up on honey bees disappearing due to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and I spent a huge amount of time researching different types of beehives and methods of beekeeping. And I approached my poor parents with the seemingly innocent request to have "just one little beehive that I could keep next to the house." My parents, being the absolutely incredible homeschooling-DIYers that they are said ok. 

And so I built a Kenyan top-bar beehive.

And I ordered a pound of bees (approximately 12,000 bees) to be shipped through the mail. I made cool friends at the post office that day!

This is how they're shipped:

And I did all the things my new bee-friends advised me to do. And pretty soon I had a fully functioning beehive with 50,000+ honey bees sitting not one foot from my house!

They gathered a lot of different types of pollen. It was fascinating to watch them go in and out of the hive.

Now, things happened a year later that were beyond my control and my hive ended up creating lots of new hives and then my hive "died". It was sad, but I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to learn what I did. And it has seriously inspired me to look into what is being labeled the "Urban Farming" movement. 

It's so cool, y'all. 
Positive Detroit

People take their backyards and rooftops and apartment patios and instead of letting them sit empty and "wasting space", they flourish with colorful plants and incredible animals.

Brooklyn Grange

National Geographic Urban Farming
Backyard Farmer: Honey I Shrunk the Farm
I'm totally and completely ok with this movement. I fully intend on owning a small farm someday, and I'm an Agriculture Education major, so I may be a little biased though. My sister is still trying to convince my dad that chickens make great conversation pieces as they run around backyards. (He hasn't bought it, or the chickens, yet.) 

If you're a current urban farmer, what are some tips you could offer would-be farmers? 
If you're interested, what would be something you'd have to know before you started your own backyard farm? 
If you hate the idea, why?

I used the Random Number Generator to pick a comment number fair-and-square, and Tamara's comment was chosen! Tamara will be contacted and her lovely recycled clutch will be shipped to her ASAP. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Great Coffee Experiment

I decided to experiment. The goal of this experiment was to 

1) Try my hand at making homemade coffee creamer
2) Attempt to find out if cold-brewed coffee works for iced coffee

I started with the coffee creamer.

Following the recipe found on Mrs Happy Homemaker, I mixed one 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk with 1 and 3/4 cups whole milk:

Then I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, mixed it up again, and then poured it into an old (cleaned!) coffee creamer container.

That was clearly a lot of work (and *so* expensive at $3.66 for the whole bottle), so I took a break and went to get a sno cone at the only place one should get sno cones: Jerry's Sno Cones!

Then I went back home and got to work on my cold-brewed coffee.

I used my favorite roast from my favorite (and local!) coffee company, J. Brooks Coffee.
And yes, I have to mark my bag so people don't steal it. It's that good.

I followed a ratio of 50:50 grounds to water.

Mixed it together.

It looked kinda' gross at this point, so I covered it and went to bed.

In the morning, for a breakfast of Super Coffee Drinkers: Caffeinated Avengers Assemble!
(I know. That's a lame joke. It was early and I thought it was funny.)

Take a gander at those grounds now - they're almost pretty!

Now pour those grounds into a french press, I had to use a spatula to get them all in. I would have preferred to do the entire experiment in the french press, but I'm not the only one who uses it. Sigh.

Press the grounds down and then pour the coffee into a glass with ice.

And, behold, Iced Coffee!

But wait, where's the creamer?! Gotta have it, y'all.

Now stir it up and lookee-there! Woo-hoo!

But does it survive the taste test?

Well......yeah. Yeah it does!

Here's what I learned about what I did right, and what I did wrong. (I've gleaned all of my coffee terminology and knowledge from the super cool guys at J. Brooks Coffee. You should check 'em out!)

1) I learned that the roast level and the grind I chose was too light and too fine for cold-brewed (though not necessarily iced coffee.) I chose a medium roast and I should have chosen a dark, I got a fine ground and I should have gotten a course. The reason behind that is that as the coffee beans are roasted darker, the sugars in them caramelize, producing a better flavor for cold-brewed coffee. The finer ground leaves more surface area for flavor to be pulled from which results in a stronger coffee than I might have wanted. (The medium roast is fine if you're brewing hot coffee with which to chill and then make iced coffee, however.)

2) I let the coffee steep waaaay to long. It was recommended to me that, due to the finer grind, I should probably only let it steep for 10 hours, 12 at the most. Well, I might possibly have stayed up super duper late and therefore slept in really late and my coffee, poor thing, might have steeped for 15 hours. Oops. This produced a super strong, and very bitter coffee. But "behind" the bitterness was an absolutely incredible flavor that I, obviously, really enjoyed. So next time I will be steeping the coffee for the recommended time to see if that alleviates the bitterness. If not, I'll try a different roast. 

3) The coffee creamer was so totally awesome! I'm so glad I tried it. Especially because I can make it any flavor I want and it's cheap! And I know exactly what I'm putting in my body. So cool.

So all in all, The Great Coffee Experiment was a success and I will be repeating it often. Huzzah!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Busting A Relationship Myth

There are a bunch of people on Facebook sharing an article titled, "6 Things Healthy Couples DON'T Do". And I think it's awesome!

And the first item on the list caught my eye: #1: "Healthy couples don't go to bed angry"

That's a great idea, a wonderful statement on how, ideally, couples should work through issues as they happen. (And yes, The Gentleman and I try to work things out immediately.) But in reality, there are nights when we have to let the matter rest until the next day (or the weekend) when we have time to work it out. He works full time and I'm in school 9 months out of the year and sometimes staying up until the wee hours of the morning figuring things out is just not reasonable or an option.

It is certainly more healthy for a relationship to be able to work an issue out before going to bed, so please don't think I'm bashing the article! But I do want to show a realistic scenario that doesn't line up with the ideal. I am NOT saying that you should go to sleep while ready to chew your significant other out, instead, agree to disagree for the evening and *then* go to bed, or go study, or whatever it is that you need to be doing. My issue with advice like not going to bed angry is that so many times it just glosses over issues, as if every time there is a disagreement, every couple will be able to pop a bag of popcorn and settle in for the evening to have a "work it out" session. That ain't happening. Especially not if you're dating. Super especially not if you're in a long-distance relationship (holla!)

There are times when you may have to set the issue aside for several days until both parties have the time the issue deserves. And that stinks, especially as a girl. We girls can obsess over issues until we can't sleep! (Not saying guys don't do this, but females are more likely to.) 

So, while definitely NOT the ideal, it is acceptable to lay a matter to rest for the evening. Please don't get too caught up in keeping "the rules" that you drag a matter far into a night that you needed to be persuing other things. I've done it and regretted it. Healthy couples can make adjustments when needed. 

P.S. This is not advice that The Gentleman and I have come up with on our own. It was presented to us in a book that completely changed our relationship (for the better!) Fit To Be Tied is a book we now recommend to every single couple we know, and even to our single friends!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pinterest-Inspired Roundup: 10 Awesome Things

Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

"I am a Pinterest Junkie. I promise to stop binge-ing on cool crafts and GIFs of kittens...right after I check to see if the Wedding category has any more uses for kraft paper..."

You know it's true. 

In honor of being a pretty motivated Pinner, I've made a roundup of 10 awesome things I've seen on Pinterest lately - all links are to the actual websites, not to Pinterest. I like to keep things easy to find, ya' know?

#1 Preach. I'm sipping coffee and praying as I write this post
Coffee and Jesus
#2 It's science, it's sewing, it's a free printable; it's true love.

#3 Another free printable! And a little motivation to bloom wherever you're planted. 
Plant your garden typography
#4 Ohmygosh. I seriously need to go thrifting now. And learn how to paint, but that's a minor detail...right?
Ceramic Sculptures Revamped

#5 Where are my old crayons???? *runs off to scavenge from little children*
DIY Crayon Lipstick

#6 It's so pretty, and cheap, and you could totally whip these babies out as gifts. (If you're female and a relative, pretend to be surprised when this is what you get for Christmas)
DIY Faux Druzy Necklace

#7 I'm southern....I need my mascara! But I don't need nasty chemicals near my eyes. Here's a pretty cool solution!
DIY Mascara
#8 Holy Fashion Truck, Batman. Can I drop out of school to do this? Pretty Please?

Mobile Fashion Boutique

#9 I like, no, LOVE science and I'm going to be a teacher, and I hate slutty costumes. I'm getting this.
Slutty Science Costume

#10 I certainly do. 
I plead the 2nd

What's your favorite thing you've found on Pinterest?

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's a Party! (And a Giveaway!)

Woo-hoo! I was pleasantly shocked this afternoon to find that I hit a blogging milestone!

No, it's not the biggest number ever, but it means the world to me. And in honor of all the cool cats stalking my little ol' blog, I'm hosting a giveaway! 
I've created a OOAK (One Of A Kind) clutch from fused plastic bags, a dog tag, a flower, and some Velcro. 

Here's how to win it:
  • Comment with your answer to one (or both!) of the following questions. 
  • Be sure to include your email address, if you're not signed-in when you comment. I want to be able to get the clutch to you!
  • Only one entry per person, 
  • The giveaway will be closed on June 29 at 12:00pm. 
  • Winner will be announced on June 30)

Q: What have you liked about my blog so far?
Q: What would you like to see more of?

Happy entering, yall!