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A diet inclusive of probiotics (live microorganisms beneficial to the host) is a great way to maintain overall good health, as they are said to improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and help detoxify the kidneys and liver. One of the most common probiotic foods is live culture yoghurt, of which I love the flavor, but unfortunately for me, causes bloating and stomach cramps. So in order to get my daily dose of good bacteria, I drink Kombucha tea, which is brewed from the Kombucha culture, and tastes like slightly carbonated iced tea infused with a splash of vinegar.
Kombucha tea has been a popular probiotic drink on the market for over twenty years now, and brands like Synergy Kombucha are sold at Whole Foods for $3.99 per 16 oz. bottle. However, I prefer to brew my own Kombucha tea at home, and use the following basic recipe, a combination of ingredients and techniques I’ve adjusted to my liking over the past few years.
BASIC KOMBUCHA TEA RECIPE
There are a few options in terms of obtaining a Kombucha culture. You don’t necessarily have to buy a culture to start with, although the fermentation process is faster when your tea is brewed from a full sized culture, and oftentimes these are available for FREE on Craigslist. You can purchase full sized cultures for about $20 online. LocalHarvest.org has free shipping and sells them for $16.95. You can also grow your own culture by adding a 16 oz. bottle of mass produced unpasteurized and unflavored Kombucha tea to your own tea at Step 3. Youtube has a great video with additional information on this method.
1 Kombucha Culture
6-7 Tea Bags of Black Tea
20 Cups Water
1 Large Glass Jar (1½-2 Gallon Capacity)
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Brown Sugar
3-6 Unbleached Coffee filters
Paper Towels or Cheesecloth
Sealable Glass Bottles for Storage
*There is some debate whether or not using metal cookware/containers/utensils in the brewing process of the tea will compromise the integrity of the Kombucha culture. I find it is just far more efficient to use a standard coffee maker to brew the tea, thus eliminating the concern. If you don’t have a coffee maker, boil the water in a glass or ceramic pot.
1. Use 5-7 tea bags in the brewing chamber (where the coffee filter normally goes), and pour through 10-12 cups of water twice to brew 2 pots of tea.
2. Pour the tea into the large glass jar and add the sugar. Stir with the wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Once the tea has cooled, place the Kombucha culture in/on top of the tea (normal-may sink or float). Cover with a couple layers of the paper towel and secure it with a rubber band.
4. Leave the tea in a undisturbed area for 2-3 weeks to ferment.
5. After the fermentation period, strain the tea using unbleached coffee filters into sealable glass bottles.
HOW TO SERVE
To receive its optimal benefits, Kombucha is best served cold, 4 oz. every morning on an empty stomach. I feel an instant energy boost when I drink it, and notice an overall improvement in my complexion as well.
The bottled and filtered Kombucha tea can be stored in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks.
Store the Kombucha cultures in glass jars with a bit of tea, which will keep it growing, or refrigerate them on a glass plate covered with a layer of wax paper underneath plastic wrap or a plastic bag.
The collections shown during Paris Fashion Week bustled with nostalgia. Granted, fashion always looks to the past for inspiration; however most of these instances are soon forgotten, replaced by the buzzing current of media driven trends. Fortunately, the Paris Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 Ready-to-Wear collections didn’t take that route. Instead, a return to grace seemed to be the ubiquitous theme on designers’ minds as as the shows were teeming with Medieval, Victorian, and 1960s elegance.
The following include more of my favorite looks and trends from the Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 Ready-to-Wear shows during Paris Fashion Week:
THE OVERCOAT. Ponchos, ulsters, capes, you name it; outerwear was officially the focal point of the Autumn/Winter Paris Ready-to-Wear collections.
BUTTERY LEATHER. These haute hides are the new ultimate luxury.
OVERSIZED. Bigger is better in the world of caricatured fashion.
SATIN. No longer confined to evenings, satin makes its way to day
TRAINS. Regal, ceremonial, and perfectly pretentious: Why not always travel by train?
Great holy farthingale! Nothing beats this plethora of pleats.
Alexander McQueen’s last collection was absolutely stunning. Like a High Renaissance painting, the ensembles had a steadfast beauty ethereal in all its rich glory.
Paris Fashion Week came and went quicker than one can say adieu. The collections shared a certain sense of ease and humor; a welcomed departure from the sexually charged seriousness of Milan Fashion Week. Modern fabrications gave life to Medieval, Victorian, and 1990s silhouettes and color ways, and all of it was noted in the details—exactly what the French are so brilliant at doing. I like to think of it as: French wit.
The following are some of my favorite looks and trends from the Paris Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 Ready-to-Wear collections.
HOODS. The artistic hood is so damn good.
EMBELLISHED SEAMS. Metallic seams are the simplest bling.
CROPPED. Sweaters and jackets soar to new heights as they shrink in size.
1990s STYLE STRIPED KNITS. Seriously, striped sweaters are the grungiest fun.
Italians do it better, so they say. Better may not be quite the right descriptive when it comes to fashion; however sexier and definitely more fun come to mind when comparing their American and English counterparts.
As for the Milan Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 collections, color schemes consisting of vibrant reds and deep forest greens seemed to jump right out of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. Nuances such as a sweater clad midriff or a carefully slashed breast revealed tiny flashes of skin, while Scandinavian motifs and patchwork worked their way in. Embellished hips, fringe, corsetry, and sans pants—enduring trends from past seasons—were well represented within reason. Now I must end this rhyme with a stitch in time.
The following include some of my favorite looks and trends from the Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 Ready-to-Wear shows during Milan Fashion Week:
RED. Standing for sex, power, love, and order: red commands attention wherever it goes.
DARK GREEN. Luscious dark green is edgy AND pristine.
SCANDINAVIAN MOTIFS. Snowflakes, blossoms, and reindeer comprise; a confectionary aesthetic; the Scandinavian guise.
PEEK-A-BOO. Just a smidgen of skin will do.
PATCHWORK. Part folk, part arts and crafts; patchwork detailing tells the future, present and past.
EMBELLISHED HIPS. Hips don’t lie, they multiply; by way of external pockets and statement peplums.
FRINGE. It’s acceptable to binge, on the lighter sides of fringe.
CORSETRY. Boned, laced, and bustiered, the corset is fiercely displayed.
SANS PANTS. Since Lady Gaga started running around in bodysuits, it seems nobody wants to wear pants anymore. Just dance sans pants.
Once Shel’s words had time to fall upon my head and soak into my brain, the hunt for Flo was on. I assumed she would be at her desk preparing for this all-important meeting, but her empty chair readjusted my compass. She wasn’t making rounds with new Assignments or throwing her flirt at the new intern (but I did notice that dimple and a half on his face that she’d be talking about for weeks).
I found her down at the Punching Bag, our piano bar and mess hall that sat one floor above ours. I admit sometimes we toot away on those Muse horns of ours, but I must toot about the Punching Bag—building a soundproof room in the back of the bar in which a punching bag dangled from the ceiling was truly, well, inspired. The Bag was open to all, regardless of motivation. Yes, even Muses need to punch and scream and kick…as long as our frustrations remain silent.
Flo was sitting at the piano, swaying as Davis played and sang “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home.” The Bag was empty aside from the two of them and Rose, who was reading behind the bar. As I slid onto the second piano stool, Flo shifted a little and looked over at the wall in the opposite direction. “She told me there was nothing to prep,” she sighed, sensing my curiosity and confusion as to why she was there. I glanced at Davis with the hope of a comforting second or two, but all he could do was sing:
“There’s a voice in the lonesome wind that keeps whispering ‘roam.’ I’m goin’ where the welcome mat is, no matter where that is.”
I stared at the back of Flo’s head and muttered, “So if I asked you what was going on, would you tell me, or do I need to fill that tray with drinks first?” She glanced at me sideways and handed me the tray that was sitting on the piano top. I went to the bar where Rose had already put her book down and started to fix three Honey Mints, a Muse favorite of peppermint tea and honey. A mug filled with half of each tickled us beyond the lightest shade of pink.
“Give that third to Davis, would ya, hon,” Rose asked me, putting the mugs onto the tray. “He’s been on this Garland kick for awhile, and his throat’s gotta be close to raw by now.” I smiled at her and nodded as I headed back towards the piano. “He’s, he’s gonna sing ‘em all, and we’ll stay all night,” Rose’s voice winked at me as I walked away. Either she was complaining or looking forward to it; probably both, knowing her.
“I pick up too when the spirit moves me,” sang Davis as I got back to piano. I put the mugs on their coasters and sat down. Flo took two sips as she sang the next line along with Davis, “Sweetin’ water, cherry wine. Thank you kindly suits me fine,” and exhaled slowly, nodding her head for no apparent reason. “Okay, I don’t know too much, but it seems like that problem in the Artist world that you all’ve been trying to ignore is getting bigger.”
The bulb that had been swinging in my mind all day started to flicker. I’d seen this coming for awhile, but yes I had aimed for the “ignore it and it will go away” philosophy that, over the years, I had encouraged so many to avoid.
As my career in this Business slowly began to blossom, the Boss would call me to her office to go over upcoming Assignments. That evolved into my staying late and sitting with her on the office floor, designing and outlining potential Assignments for the Narrative Department. As Taffy purred on the Boss’s lap and Fanny on mine, we’d talk about reorganizing the Motif Index or combining chapters of the Tale Type Index to create a new type, that sort of thing. Decisions in this Business weren’t made in meetings, at least not for Narrative; they were made on the floor of that office with two cats purring, stacks of papers threatening to fall over, and empty bottles of Yoo Hoo and Dr. Pepper swirling between us.
If that hamburger phone of hers ever rang, the Boss would just ignore it…if she even heard it at all. Flo would pop in every now and then to yank us out of a dry brainstorm, usually with a one-liner of perfection that was far too obvious for us to see. One night, I was on the couch with Fanny sitting above my shoulder and my own growing stack of papers. Flo came in and grabbed the burger off the Boss’s desk, all but throwing it to her on the floor where she was sitting.
“It’s upstairs,” Flo said, one eye in my direction. Something both in her voice and eye told me to stand up leisurely and pretend to fetch something that I absolutely could not be without at that moment. It was pure instinct at the time, and I really didn’t give it a second or third thought. I had little, if anything, to do with “Upstairs,” and that two-way street remained motionless on both sides. As the number of late phone calls to the Boss increased as our late night sessions become fewer, I stuck blazingly to slaying the inevitable dragon by ignoring it.
“Bottom line, if you want it,” Flo said, returning to the piano with another tray of Honey Mints, “the demand in the Artist world has been pulling a downwards gopher for too long. If the days of the Muse are numbered, they’re numbered in single digits.”
There it was. Unfortunate and Unamusing Truth. Just how un-Musing it was going to be, neither of us knew.
“Any place I hang my hat…”
I ran out before Davis could finish.
Although New York Fashion Week’s Fall Ready-to-Wear 2010 collections tended to be somewhat calculated, there were aspects I found to be rather exceptional. The following include more trends from the New York Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear shows and my favorite looks—on the darker side naturally, taking cues from medieval times.
SHEER ALL THE WAY. Like it or not, sheer all the way is here to stay; at least for a season or two.
EXAGGERATED CURVES. Like a coat of armor, contrasting fabrics and boning create dramatic structure.
FRINGE. Fringe gets refreshed in edgy colors and shapes.
PEEK-A-BOO. Glimpses of skin is a playful DO.
VELVET. Rich, supple and romantic; velvet is a lost love returned for fall.
1930s STYLE EVENING GOWNS. Long, fluid lines in draping fabrics denote classic evening glamour.
And by far the most interesting piece of all the NYFW fall 2010 collections.
So cool was Betsey Johnson’s Tribute to Alexander McQueen.