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It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

Quick Updates: Mead & NaNoWriMo/Writing in General

December 5th, 2009 (07:28 pm)

mood: bouncy

My latest loves...or rediscovering old loves...whichever.

So, I lost NaNoWriMo - no big shock there. I nearly made it to 30K which, in itself, is pretty spiffy and I still like my story, so I haven't necessarily stopped writing, just resting. I really do need to finish it. (Those of you reading it probably want another update, yeah?)

Also, I'm switching gears because I need to have at least one play written by January if I want a shot at folks looking at that seriously. I miss playwriting,'know, I have to try.

Secondly, today the hubby and I started another mead - this time, though, in the comfort of our own home! It's going to be a chocolate chili mead (playing with the names "After Burn" or - to be very Browncoat-y, Full Burn - but I don't want to make the mead insanely hot, either) and today we started the chocolate part. The habaneros won't come in until much later.

Right now, it has the potential to become 17% alcohol by volume (just like KiSS turned out), but we'll see how that all ends up. I'm trying for a sweeter mead this time - to balance out the chili heat. After the first tasting...oh, how I want to make tons of chocolate mead with different complimentary flavours! If this flavour stays after the aging, I will find it next to impossible to share this mead with anyone.

You might have to pay me in ingredients to get any of this out of me!

P.S. If you want to talk about UK Football or beer - follow my hubby on Twitter (he needs more practise using that thing)

If you want to watch me swear (more) and talk about random crap, follow me.

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

Bottled Kisses! My Mead is Done!

November 28th, 2009 (07:08 pm)

mood: creative

So tonight, we finally bottled my mead, Kaylee's Strawberry Shindig - and it will now age in the bottle until March 2010...or longer, depending on how well my mead mellows out. Right now, it's a bit on the tart side and I'd like that to ease off a bit before thinking about the Mazer Cup. I'm thinking I might want it for 2011 - but if I like the flavour well enough and everything looks good, I may enter it for next year. We'll see how that goes. I still have time to decide.

  Also, I have enticed my friend to make her Honey Moon Harvest mead (spiced pumpkin, autumnal mead - fabulous). I have gifted her the honey and I am getting half the mead, which I am saving for next year's Mabon or even Samhain. That would be awesome. We did start that mead just this afternoon (before bottling KiSS).

Like I did with my own, here, she is skimming the bee bits and pollen and wax off her pumpkin honey and isn't it pretty? It smelled pretty, too.

She has a totally different method to how she makes this mead - one which I am interested in for my next adventure (a chocolate chili mead - oh yeah!), and that's planned for next week! Yay! That one will even worked on at home, which should be fun and exciting.

There are a ton of different kinds of meads I want to make. Also happening next week is the second racking of my 5 gallon KiSS, which is actually going to turn into 3 gallons of KiSS and 2 gallons of "experimental mead". I want some blackberry mead...or maybe some Marionberry mead, eh? I'm sure I will post about all my mead adventures (and if you're nice to me, you may find yourself sharing in them).

Here are the nitty-gritty stats if you're the type of folk interested in that sort of thing:

Original gravity: 1146
Final gravity: 1016

Which makes KiSS 17.4% alcohol by volume!!! Not bad for my very first mead - and although the colour has darkened/changed a bit, it is still as strawberry as ever! It still has a beautiful colour that I can't wait to show off to more folks. This will be a wonderful summer/CSTS mead - wouldn't you agree?

Take a look at the full-sized, six latest photos on my Flickr. I'm pleased. I can't wait to see how it tastes in a month! The small flask is my personal tester, the three on the right are for the Mazer and the one tall one is for a special occasion - and probably just for me!

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

This is to All Those I Wish I Could Have Saved

November 14th, 2009 (12:16 pm)

mood: hopeful

This is a little more personal and although old-timers to this journal (any of y'all still reading me?) will remember such things being common a long time ago, this is more my Browncoat/hobby/cause space.

This is a cause, but it is because it's personal.

Reading lastyearsgirl_'s latest you can’t raise a baby on shame; - she mentions the nonprofit organisation "To Write Love on Her Arms". (go read her, too - she's great)

I won't rehash (you can read the website for yourselves), but I did want to quote their Mission Statement:

"To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery."

I have battled (still battling?) depression and self-injury and I have survived suicide attempts (as well as survived through friends' suicides). I still have good and bad days, but I have an incredibly supportive and loving husband - and some really amazing friends - who I remember any time when that desire to hurt myself comes back around.

This is to all those I wish I could have saved...and all those who need help.

Vote to give TWLOHA a (good)Woodie! You got until Monday, the 16th.

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

NaNo Procrastination

November 7th, 2009 (10:47 pm)

mood: sleepy
music: "Pan's Labyrith Lullaby"

Because it's funny:

Two Lumps

I am so exhausted right now and I'm still bleeding this wordy(-less?) turnip - but I'm far behind my daily word count and weekends are busy! What the hell, people?!

Back to the salt mines!

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

Yes, It's NaNoWriMo Time

October 30th, 2009 (09:52 pm)

mood: determined
music: "Rutti" by Slowdive

I'm ready for the torture that is National Novel Writing Month. Again.

Could be fun. I like my story idea so far. It was also killed dead by my husband (and revived again by the NaNo'ers and girlleabhar), so...y'know...I can't just chuck it all in this late in the game.

A young girl learns the importance of her blood-line after her older sister gets murdered during the Black Death.

Elinor, 15, is caretaker to her older sister, Emma’s, children in 1665 London, England. As the Black Death claims lives around them, something else takes Emma’s life and her violent husband, John, is blamed. He swears his innocence and after meeting some strange, wealthy travellers, Elinor starts to believe John. When Elinor defends him, the community turns on her – aided by newcomers inciting riots to “purge the town of sinfulness” – accusing her of witchcraft and adultery, even possibly being the true murderer of her sister. The wealthy strangers appear again – although they are not very helpful to Elinor’s situation, but give her equally strange and unbelievable insight into her blood-line and why it is absolutely necessary for her to survive.

Can you believe it's actually a sci-fi/fantasy? I can't either.

After spraining my wrist a few months ago, I've had to put all my knitting on hold. I think my husband jumped on the opportunity to let me know that it's time to get back to writing. Silly person.

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

Playing for Change

July 31st, 2009 (07:14 pm)

mood: contemplative

So, who else has seen these? They are incredible.

Bob Marley's "One Love"
B.B. King's "Stand By Me"
"Don't Worry" (who's song is this?)

Take a listen. Pass them on - again, if you have to.

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

KISS: The Continuing Drunken Experiment

July 5th, 2009 (08:57 pm)

mood: ecstatic

So, back in May, I started my very first mead. In June, I added fresh Oregon strawberries (just delivered that morning) and today was my second racking where I took another hydrometer reading and had a test taste.

  Although, let me back up to the important June racking. By this time, my blackberry mead had been fermenting happily for a month and was now barely bubbling. It was the same weekend of the Grand Floral Parade. All week beforehand, I had been trying to call stores and farmers market vendors to find out when Oregon strawberries were going to be in season. I knew June was the start of the harvest - but since I wasn't going to go out and pick them myself, I had to get the next best thing. I hoped I didn't have to wait much longer. Luckily, Whole Foods said they'd be in that very Saturday, so the man and I decided we'd skip the parade this year and sort out my desired fruit.

We started early, grabbing not only my precious strawberries - but also some groceries as well as food for a late lunch that day. We picked up sunflower seedlings and they were so tasty! We have most of them now growing on the balcony, so I can't wait to see this place in August.

Anyway, once deciding to grab an entire crate of strawberries (6 dry pints, if I remember rightly), we headed home to juice them. At least the juicer now has a purpose in life, other than cluttering our spare room.

(click on a photo to see it larger)

This was after we added the strawberries. You can see all three meads and how different they look. Since mine went into a second primary (the yeast went nutty after the strawberries were introduced), there was a bit of overflow the day after this photo was taken. In fact, I put around 32 ounces of strawberry pureé, so there was some mead that was displaced, as you can see in the following picture. You can also see in that second photo how much sediment (on the strawberry side) is still in the mead at this early stage. The third and fourth photos are a week later; the mead cleared up incredibly quickly, all of the fruit bits rising to the top and the yeast sinking to the bottom.

(more clickable photos)

This next photo was taken today - before my second racking, so this is 2-month-old mead. Another fun shot of all four wines (mine is the second one from the far left, the bright red one is actually a cranberry/raspberry wine that isn't mine). The final photo is my second racking on the left, the leftover sediment and yeast on the right at the little glass of mead for my taste test and hydrometer reading.

It's at 14.5%, which is a very decent alcohol content. The strawberry smells wonderful, it looks like strawberry and the taste is distinctive; sweet but not cloying - and it could very well knock you on your butt, easy. I think I will have to make a bigger batch of this for post-CSTS 2010.

So, thanks to girlleabhar, this has been officially named Kaylee's Strawberry Shindig, or "Kiss", for short. Call me crazy (go on - I know you want to), but I'm hoping to enter this in the Mazer Cup next year - just as long as I can get the clarity, at least. There will be a very small amount available after that. Definitely will have to make a bigger batch next time.

I'm considering to make a 3 gallon batch next weekend...maybe this time with spices or perhaps a chili mead. I haven't decided if it's going to be a Zoë mead or an Inara mead - but I'm definitely excited to be making more, and something different. I may even start on the base mead for Kiss and just let it mature until next year's fresh crop of Oregon strawberries happens.

Storage space is going to get interesting.

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

KISS: My Foray Into Mead-Making

May 11th, 2009 (08:32 pm)

current location: PDX
mood: productive

Just this past Saturday, I made my very first batch of mead. At least, I started my very first batch of mead – the making bit takes some time and it’s not really me who makes it. I just help Mother Nature along by introducing certain elements in a controlled manour. In any case, now I can say that I’ve made mead.

The very first thing we took care of was preparing the yeast – allowing the yeast cells to multiply and start activating before getting into the must – which would be my honey-water, but I’m jumping ahead again.

Anyway, we plopped the yeast in a cupful of orange juice and let that sit for about two hours – we went off and watched something on the Discovery Channel. The boys were in the garage, brewing their third batch of beer. The women-folk had the kitchen and the meadery going on. Her son kindly made us sandwiches. (clicking on the thumbnails will give you more details, and open a new window)

mead,making mead,yeast starter,lalvin D47,yeast nutrient,orange juice   GloryBee Honey - Hillsboro, Oregon

We put everything in the sanitiser, dumped the blackberry honey in half a gallon of water and put it on the heat – but didn’t make it boil. Almost immediately, I was scraping the impurities (the foam comprised of honeycomb, pollen and usually bee-bits) off and it wasn’t even warm yet.
Photobucket   Photobucket   Photobucket

We did get it up in temperature after a while, 150 degrees Fahrenheit, in fact. I cleaned off as much of the foam as I could, it was time to add the pectin enzyme and acid blend.

Once we were able to cool the must down (about 77 degrees F), it was time to take a sample (for taste and looking for clarity), measure the specific gravity and add the active yeast! It tasted really sweet and the blackberry finish was very noticeable.
Photobucket   Photobucket   Aeration time!

We put it in the carboy to finally settle and let the yeast do its thing. It now got to sit and patiently wait with the other meads previously made. Mine is the brownish one in the middle. Three different meads, created by three different methods, with different ingredients.
Photobucket   Photobucket

Next month, I add strawberries to mine. Then, for the next six months, I rack once a month - slowly filtering out the sediment to get clarity. After that, I will probably wait at least another six months before I will even think about testing it on people. Mead is better aged and the minimum I want to wait is two years.

I can be patient.

Silly Photo Under HereCollapse )

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

We're Obsessed with Beer & Bunnies

March 5th, 2009 (09:02 pm)

mood: exhausted
music: Kimya Dawson :: Loose Lips

I've been cheating. Making quiche is easy and we've been eating plenty of it lately. I'm sure our cholesterol is through the roof and any day now we could collapse. It's all vegetarian at least, and even last weekend I really don't think I had any meat. I'm really not bothered, either. Despite feeling cold (which I do all the time anyway), I think my body likes being vegetarian.

I don't have any photos of my food, either - mainly because it's just quiche and I've been working incredibly long hours, so I've not been in the mood. At least my paychecks are looking a bit fatter. If I start cooking something different, I'll try to remember to take a photo.

So about 2 weeks ago, we brewed our first batch of beer - a nut brown ale. We're pretty proud of ourselves, even though it was mostly thanks to the brilliant woman who told us what to do and when. She graciously taught us everything and told us some hilarious horror stories that put the hubby at ease about his fears that we'd brew a bad batch. Which is understandable and being that we're new brewers - we're bound to have a crappy beer sooner or later. Even the best brewers can have Something Tragic Happen. The man would just like to have his first batch not suck, which is also understandable.

The batch should be ready to bottle on March 28th (Saturday). We are super excited and our friends (who's garage we used for storage) sent us videos of the beer bubbling. Very cool! If you click on the spoon, it will show you 4 more photos (if it asks for a password, you'll want to use browncoat) of the crew.

Tomorrow night (Friday), if you're in town - come to Roots and say "hi!" I plan to be there some time after 4pm and the man should meet us around 7:30p or so. They have great beer and a decent Happy Hour (and free wifi!), and we're not going anywhere. Although, we have a beer demo to attend at Steinbart's on Saturday morning, so we're not going to be there all night. (hubby will be outside cooking sausages and I think I'm going to try and learn something inside)

Oh - and anyone interested in getting together for a game of Killer Bunnies? Waiting on our shipment of our missing decks, but after that, we should be rocking. Crazy game - and it needs lots of table space (unless you like sitting on the floor - I don't).

It's Okay! I'm A Leaf on the Wind! [userpic]

Lazy Sunday, Lots o' Nothin'

February 15th, 2009 (05:16 pm)

mood: lethargic
music: 10,000 Maniacs :: Eden

I've had a pretty relaxing day today. We did laundry this morning, he went off with his buddies to talk brewing and to beer it, and I've been sitting here downloading music and avoiding the writing that I said I wanted to do while the man was out cavorting.

Yeah. No surprise, right?

At least I'm doing the dishes and working on a meal plan for the week. I will also have photos (we finally got a battery!) to show you the mess that I make. I need to hit the grocery before it gets too late, but it's been difficult to motivate myself. (another non-surprise)

I'm also enjoying the procrastinating pleasure of reading some ancient Epinions I wrote (and debating to write one for GBS's latest album) and longing for some origami books I lost years ago when moving out here. I guess I'm feeling very nostalgic at the moment.

Tomorrow there will be more productive: yarn-shopping with a friend and cooking. Right now, it's nearly 7pm, the man is still not home from his excursion and I suppose I should get moving for at least some eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

I haven't even thought about dinner tonight. He'll probably be too wasted, anyway. Sweet.

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