Monday, January 30, 2012

Card Making

Shannon was kind enough to loan her fancy stamps and embossing materials to me to crank out a few Thank You cards this weekend!  Keeping it pretty simple, with some ribbon and a few pearl-shaped stickers for embellishment.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spooked Out Stout (Beer #1)

Back in October, Ryan and I invested in a homebrew kit in celebration of his new job.  We've been having a lot of fun in the process, and drinking your own homebrew is such a rewarding experience.

Our local brew shop in Seattle is Bob's Homebrew Supply, and the staff there is incredibly friendly and helpful!  We decided winter was a good time to warm up with a thick, dark, imperial stout.  We've recruited the help of our friends Sarah and Lenny, and the only photos I have from this first brew session involves no beer at all:

Digby loves brew days!

Unintentionally so, the beer was ready to drink on October 31st...which gave us the idea to name it "Spooked Out Stout" in honor of Halloween.
The fermenter
The recipe is from Bob's, and yields 5 gallons.

Ingredients needed:

  • 12 oz roasted barley
  • 4 oz black patent malt
  • 7 lb amber malt extract (wet)
  • 2 lb dark malt extract (dry)
  • 30 AAU Magnum hops (55 min)
  • 1 oz Centennial hops (5 min)

  1. Boil 3 quarts of water to 165-170°F.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to lowest setting (~200°F)
  2. Stir in the grains (barley and black patent malt), remove pot from heat, and steep covered in the oven for 30-45 min.  
  3. Meanwhile, bring 2.5 gallons of water to boil in the brewing kettle.  Once boiling, add malt extracts (wet and dry) and stir well.  Lower temperature and keep stirring to avoid boil over.
  4. Separately boil 2 quarts of water to 160-170°F.
  5. Using a metal sieve, strain the grain mixture into the boiling kettle, and pour the boiled 2 quarts of water over the sieve (sparge the grains).  
  6. Return the kettle to boiling, and add Magnum hops.  Boil for 55 min.  Get the ice bath ready.  
  7. After 55 min has passed, add the Centennial hops and boil for 5 min.
  8. Turn off heat, and put the kettle in the ice bath.  Stir once every 5 min, leaving the spoon in the kettle, held upright by the ajar lid on top.  This will minimize the chances of contamination.  Stir until < 80°F.
  9. Strain mixture into the sanitized fermenter, and add enough cold bottled water (or boiled-then-cooled tap water) to add up to 5 gallons total (should be ~1.5 gallons).
  10. Attach the lid and the airlock, and ferment for about 2 weeks before bottling.
  11. Follow your own preferred secondary fermentation/bottle conditioning method, but we did 152g of dry malt extract in 2c of boiling water for a primer solution.  We boiled for 15 min, cooled to 80°F, mixed with the beer, and bottled.  

What to do with fabric scraps

After cutting pieces for quilting projects (or any fabric project, really), I'm often left with a large array of oddly-shaped scraps.  They are way too small to sew into any one project, but it is such a waste to throw them away.
I've found I can salvage them by sewing coordinating scraps together to make patchwork fabric.  In turn, these patchwork squares can be used to make pillowcases, framed as cheap art, accent blocks for a quilt, or simply be used for practice in free-hand machine quilting.  

If the pieces are particularly big, something like a checkered pattern seems to work well: 
 If you have a set of matching fat quarters (like I did after making quilts for myself and my sister), coordinating strips also look great:

 The pieces don't have to be square or uniform size, either.
I sew these scrappy blocks shortly after cutting them, to keep down clutter.  After pressing them, I keep them in a shoebox together, and use them as inspiration strikes.